Andy Gavin's blog

Open Source and Intellectual Property

The first man who, having enclosed a land, thought of saying 'this is mine' and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. How many wars, crimes, murders; how much misery and horror the human race would hve been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes and filled the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: 'beware of listening to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone and the earth belongs to no one!'

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality, 1755

What is the relationship between common resources and property? I'd wager that most proprietry systems are build either using or on-top of commonly available code. Rarely is something so unique to be genuinely produced by the inventor. Rousseau is an idealist, a romantic; people forget outside the natural world is much worse. What animals do to each other in the natural world wouldn't be tollerated in civil society. If a squirel thinks he can get aways with it, he's pounce on an unsupecting pidgeon and have it for lunch.


Agile development, structured workshops for knowledge sharing

At work we are using a form of Extreme Programming. In XP requirements are fed to development is through the use of interation and release planning. The system is broken down into stories that describes what the user requires to do with the system. This commnicates the customer's requirements to the development. However problems can arise communicating specialised domain knowedge to the development team, and domain implementation knowledge to the customer and operations.

Existing Knowledge Transfer


"If" by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;


Natural Selection in Software Production

I had an interesting conversation today about coding standards, it started with a document How to write unmaintainable code. One of my collegues sent this out after reading slash-dot. It reminded me of, perhaps a more cynical version, of How to get your abstract rejected.

How much of this is tongue in cheek and how much understanding of the natural processes involved is there. Quoting statements like:

Let's face it, you and I and everyone else are going to write crap code anyway, so it may as well be cheap and simple crap code that you understand and can afford to throw away rather than complicated and expensive crap code. (The fact that 90% of the code written by 90% of developers is crap is a corollary of Sturgeon's law that 90% of everything is crap.)



Instead of spending many hours hand writing CSS and HTML, I've opted to join the blogging generation. I've looked around and found Drupal. This project is about four years old and has been contributed to by the Google Summer of code. For me this means joining an active community and using other people's excellent work. So a big thanks to the Drupal Project.



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