Dana carved an Archman pumpkin! He's cool. Dana I mean, but the pumpkin-Archman
Ryan and Sara were the hit of the neighborhood -- they decided to use the
basilisk costume I'd made for Sara's theater birthday party two birthday's ago
(for which she'd written a play, and we rented a stage and for the birthday
party the kids rehearsed the play and put it on for the parents). Well, most
people thought it was a cool snake or a Chinese dragon, but one high-schooler
said "oooh, a basilisk from Harry Potter. You kill people!" One little
girl said (wiggling her finger cutely) "oh look, a squiggly, wiggly worm!
I want to be one of those!"
It was neat, because two kids going in one costume requires a lot of team
work, and they had fun and enjoyed being rather a sensation. Then they got
distracted and Sara nearly pulled Ryan down some steps, and they got chilly
hands and somewhat grumpy. Yeah, about the usual Halloween scenario.
Our neighborhood is especially festive at Halloween because we have kids
bought in by the seriously many car loads (cars line the streets!), so
people decorate and it is a-buzz with colorfully dressed kids having fun!
This was a Halloween mostly of reuse. For Ryan's school Halloween parade, he
decided to bring out a fish costume I had made, with Dana's help on the
structure, a few years ago. The kids are sentimental about these costumes, and
wouldn't hear of them being thrown out, so they'd made a home in the attic.
Anyway, Ryan won the prize for "most unique" costume. I'll say! It's about 5 ft
long, because Ryan is into big fish. Literally, in that case.
For whatever reason, Ryan and Sara most like homemade costumes. For Sara's
Halloween harp recital on Saturday afternoon, Sara told me she'd make what she
needed/use what she had, and go as a cowgirl. On Saturday morning right before
her ballet lessons, she told me she wasn't happy with what she had. So I had to
go and buy fabric, rustle up a design and make her a cowgirl vest and transform
a shirt between 11am and 2pm, while she was at ballet and before the recital. I
didn't even have a model to cut and sew to!
Software Architecture Workshop, Boston, MA on
November 8-11, 2010. There are 3 seats left, so if you know anyone
who'd be interested please let them know right away! We
are looking at early March in the Bay Area (Palo Alto, CA) for the next open enrollment Software Architecture Workshop. And in late March the ESI
will run another of our Software Architecture Workshops (to be taught by Dana
Bredemeyer) in The Netherlands.
Enterprise Architecture Workshop, Chicago, IL, on December 6-9, 2010. Instructor: Dana Bredemeyer.
Ok, so along the lines of tracking where jobs are really going, see this: Robots Teach! We, dear software/technology people, are obsoleting humans as
fast as we possibly can, and so far the despair and vitriol from lost jobs is
being focused on jobs going overseas and immigrants coming here. But perhaps one
of these days we are going to wake up to a firestorm of wrath when people
realize where so many jobs really went (absorbed into IT systems and taken up by
I-do-what-I'm-told and no-worries-about-benefits-and-unions robots). I don't watch TV
but on the occasions that I do catch a glimpse, I see the commercials for
automotive manufacturing being done in the US and there's nary a human in sight!
Robots are doing the assembly. There is something to the cautionary note that
Andy Grove sounds around having supply chain learning go overseas*. With ever more jobs in the route
manufacturing space being handed off to silicon and steel, the rationale for
bringing manufacturing back/keeping it in the US is around product development
and supply chain integration expertise, not manufacturing jobs! Then we will
have to get real about what manufacturing in our towns really means -- pollution
and environmental hazard, and not quite so many jobs every single year! Ok, so
cheaper manufacturing has tremendous goodness in elevating the quality of life
of people, but we have to pay attention to reducing and reversing our
environmental impact and to equipping the next generation with the wherewithal
to compete for satisfying jobs in an era where automation (from robots to smart
auto-pilot cars to ...), not just a smart and willing global labor supply, is a very real job threat.
We need to start looking at the world as a system, and at the various impacts of
our self-interested choices. I'm far from an exemplar in my choices, but I am at
least increasingly aware of the complex variables at play. We have to start and
make incremental changes with an informed and compelling sense of what they will
add up to as we change our course and re-navigate our choice-sets over the days
and weeks and months and years ahead.
I am very excited about what technology enables in the world, and what humanity
is capable of. And worried! The levers that make a difference in the direction
of companies and nations can end up in some pretty scary hands! And popular
weight behind small-minded "isms" is scary too.
* thanks again to Daniel Stroe for the pointer to that article a while back.
Great points about technology! "This is your life"
-- indeed! "Father I have sinned" ... Google
knows... It is awesome! Including the message at the end -- we can, and should, choose not to do the
things that increase hate.
Astonishing what can be done in 12.33 minutes with a few cartoons and a lot of
heart and head!
I just got a message from Amazon saying that Don Norman's Living with
Complexity will be available later than they at first thought. I guess that
fits -- living with complexity indeed.
I was thinking about my "dream improves reality" iterative word-sketchlet and realizing I want to
illustrate the dream drawing reality. Pulling reality into a better future. If
we don't have a dream, a vision, we won't get anywhere in particular. We are so
very, very busy, every day, paddling as hard as we can, and if we don't have a
sense of where we want to get to, we aren't going to exert focus on moving
anywhere in particular.
In the ballet hallway at IU, I saw this Thoreau quote posted on the college
ballet bulletin board (which I was reading to see The Nutcracker casting):
"Live the life you've imagined."
I also came across this Winston Churchill quote:
"If you're going through hell, keep going."
Just paddling like crazy, trying to get through, to get by, to cope. Or going
somewhere? I like the way Dana puts it, with the right hand, left hand imagery.
I was excited by a search term that led someone to my site: "software archman."
Ok, I fully realize that it had nothing to do with my archman sketches, but the
notion that it might be so -- that some day someone might actually look for more archman -- was quite thrilling. Which is telling.
It is lifting one's head and seeing the "life you've imagined." I need to draw more huh? ;-) No,
that wasn't the point! Though it is an important one -- we have to act to make
our lives more the way we want them to be. I have no illusions about archman,
but it is a vehicle, a medium, for making a difference in the world. And it is
that difference that I care about. Software just touches too much for us not to
get better at designing "human-centered,
human leveraging, human-extending" systems -- systems that serve people, that enhance, enrich and save
Part of living with complexity is giving credence to architects as system
designers, and getting better at design. One of the things I'm driving at when I
say we need to put the architect at the center of design views and serve the
architect's responsibility to create great architecture, is that we need to put
design leadership into the hands of a capable person -- leadership! Not
dictatorship! But also not leadership without authority, yet that authority has
to responsibly balance when to act with unilateral directness and when to
draw in, and on, the best efforts of a team -- of teams, very often.
So architecture (system design) views need to serve the architect. That is, the
object is creating a great design (where great means it delights in important
ways, and satisfices where that is good enough) which is a matter of
meeting stakeholder needs/addressing stakeholder concerns. Yeah. But not so
fast, and not so simple. We can't just go around each of the stakeholders,
scribe their concerns, and meet them systematically, in turn! Sorry. It just
isn't like that. The world isn't. Too many stakeholders. Too many divergent and
ill-formed concerns! Interacting and conflicting concerns. Even ultimately
irrelevant concerns, sometimes. The great designer has to imagine and fit,
balance and compromise, figure out needs the stakeholders didn't know they had,
figure out solutions the competition wasn't thinking of, ... Then the architect
has to persuade sponsors to advocate and fund that design, resource the building
of it. Showing how their concerns have influenced the design so that they take
ownership, even think that, in key ways, it was their idea. And inviting,
persuading, cajoling, bludgeoning (ok, not that, but strong arm twisting and
being quite directive where that is critical to the outcome) more and
more people to lend passion, creativity, problem solving, hours of their lives,
into the creation of this thing, this system. That yes, serves stakeholders.
And, yes, the
architect needs to think about what visual models, what narrative, what
explanations and persuasive arguments, what considerations to share with what
stakeholders, in what forum and format. This will include addressing their
concerns, but better still, it is about exciting* and enabling them to
play the role they must play to realize differentiating value and make the
system a success. Users who don't just use the system but who become its active
advocates. Sponsors who actively shoulder and remove obstacles, resourcing the
project enough to get it done, and not so much that restraint doesn't play its
own important role. Developers who get excited about the direction and apply
creativity and passion to realizing the design that, though sketched and even,
in places, detailed, still leaves so much to be done.
Dana Bredemeyer makes another point explicit and clear when he points out
that the architect also needs to bring to the attention of key stakeholders the
concerns of other stakeholders, and the synthesis, the tradeoffs and
compromises, the best effort that is being made to create a great design that
balances the goals/intentions/desires of various stakeholders so that something
of significant differentiating value is conceived and built! Because the
architect works across the system, the architect is often the only person (or
team) who works across the full scope of the stakeholder set -- not just users,
but various players in the value network, strategy setters and operations,
developers and marketing, etc. So this is a very active part of the architect's
role, where the architect is thinking about how to change minds and lead where
the architect decides, taking into account various stakeholders within strategic
value and time frames, and so forth. Listening to and integrating the concerns
of various stakeholders; creating dialog among stakeholders so that they see
each others concerns and start to understand the complexity of the decision
space that the architect is weighing and designing within. Yes, stakeholders'
concerns factor. But value and design integrity has to be decided, and great
designs, let's face it, aren't entirely rationally created, but created more
through heroic diligence and negligence, extraordinary (and odd)
talent, luck or serendipity, and more.
Yes, yes, yes, the architect has a job to do. Strings are being pulled. The
architect has a mortgage to pay, kids to clothe and feed, a future to secure.
Pragmatics and politics factor. But so does recognizing that this is what
leaders do! They see the important thing that must be done (to add to the bigger
things the system being built/evolved plays into), and they figure out how to
shift action to make the important thing start to come to fruition.
Working to actualize value in short order, because realized value is both a
learning/proving ground and necessary to business momentum. And if we don't
allow the architect to act as a leader and a decision maker setting direction
for and shaping the system design, then we need to come to the realization that
someone else then makes these system design decisions (managers, developers,
etc.) implicitly or explicitly. In which case they're doing so disjointly with
the intent to "make things better" or ... just get it working, yes,
but doing so taking into account only a limited scope of concern! That is, they are
addressing concerns they see from a local perspective without balancing across
the system or across what is needed/what will it take to build that.
Well, that's all very nice, but dependent on a stellar architect. What do we do
with, you know, a good architect, but a human one. One who is coping with
explicit priorities and implicit power mongering. With technology change. With
the aspirations of the development team. With... on and on. So... overwhelmingly
much! Well, of course, that is where process as scaffolding comes in. We are
human. Which means great! And fallible! And our process needs to compensate for
our fallibilities and give us a safe place to work from, as we build the system
in conception and in realization.
Etc. yadda yadda rhetoric. Building a vision of what it means to be a great
architect and how to be one. If you haven't already read the fractal and emergent paper, why not? (Yes, it means giving Cutter your contact info -- in exchange
for saving $150.00 which is the purchase price through the Cutter store. And you
can decline contact.)
* intellectually, but also appealing to their need to make a difference and
contribute to something meaningful
A system is a complex of interacting elements giving rise not just to
behaviors that deliver the functionality of the system, but the properties of
the system. If a system delights, we attribute design greatness. If it continues
to do so, through stresses and strains, we attribute structural integrity --
another dimension of design greatness, but viewing the system over various
timeframes so that resilience, robustness, scale, evolution and so forth play
out. When we step back and view the system as meeting a complex of concerns --
interacting, conflicting, evolving, spoken and unspoken, etc., concerns -- we
see that the architect has to be interpolating, integrating, synthesizing,
guessing, estimating, balancing, compromising, elevating, and plenty of other *ing
(that for the sake of my and your time and interest I'll leave implied by the * iterator).
And yet we can't deal with the whole hairball! It is just too much to hold in
mind to manipulate/reason about or to explain/advocate/defend. So we needs-must
work with separations of concerns and with threads of reasoning. Different
models deal with different concerns, and we accept this simplification, knowing
that we need also to work across the various views of the architecture
(expressing in models and accompanying explanations and articulation of our
reasoning and rationale) and synthesize and resolve the impact of decisions
across views, reworking where needed.
Dana Bredemeyer points out that in system design (including during
development when many design decisions are made), we make an extraordinary
number of decisions -- choices. Even if we don't explicitly see and reason about
them, there are endless alternative ways we could have done things. So,
sometimes we'll make a "wrong" decision -- where "wrong" can be very detrimental
to the system, and sometimes seeming innocuous but over time more significant.
Etc. Right? We are human, not all-knowing, all-seeing, so we simply are going to make some choices that turn out to be bad/detrimental/erode system
structure/impact performance/inhibit functionality/increase cost/etc. So our
process isn't going to save us from every mistook. But it can help us to think
through, to find and fix more impactful ones earlier. More than if we just
proceed in an ad hoc, unchecked fashion. That has implications for
views, and for the threads of reasoning and iteration across the views!
If the architect is to be held accountable for the architecture, or the
design of the system, the architect needs to own (sign up for) creation of that
design. Not that she does the work alone, for that is fraught with all kinds of
traps. But she realizes that design is leading thought about what the system is
and how it will be built. Really leading. Seeing what needs to be done, and
shaping expectations and aligning minds so that it gets done! Some of that is
making the stakeholders feel good that their concerns were factored, though they
can't all be addressed simply as initially stated!
So we need to concern ourselves with views that serve the architect in the
design thinking that must be done, in getting input, in improving, in
validating. And with creating compelling ways to excite and empower stakeholders
to play the role they need to play.
Does that make sense? In order to convince a stakeholder to embrace our approach
to security, we may have to talk to them about not just other stakeholders'
concerns about security, but about performance and functionality and consistency
of business or development practice, etc., too. Concerns are inter-related, and
the design has to be thought of as a conjoint act that doesn't always balance
but does weigh and sometimes diverges from what a stakeholder (group) wants or
even needs for the achievement of system goals and imperatives. So now if we
take a concern like security, to fully think through just that concern, we're
working across a variety of decision spaces from deployment infrastructure to
system functionality to responsibilities of components to interfaces to
algorithms to ... The various security-related concerns of various stakeholders
are being addressed across a complex space of decision vehicles and structures.
We can highlight the security approach we're advancing on the deployment view. We can pull out
and highlight steps in use cases or user stories, we can ripple these through
interaction diagrams, draw out the security facets of the conceptual model. Etc.
In short, what the views are all about, is bringing the thing the architect sees
in her mind's eye into a form that she can interact with, and invite others to
interact with, shaping and reshaping it until she
is excited that it is what must be done and she knows how to do it well enough
to get the expertise and passion (or just goodwill and time) of developers
aligned and applied. And it is about getting other people to think it was their
idea all along. No, not necessarily. But to enable them to shift their position
so they see too that it is the good right thing to do, and turn their minds (and
budget and whatever else) to making it successful. Shift their positions? Well,
for example, they may have been asking for something different, but in the
process of exploring what would really differentiate (in key ways delight),
something somewhat different may have surfaced as the compelling thing to do. It
doesn't do for the architect to wear initial requests and expectations as a
straightjacket and ignore the pull of good sense and compelling value without at
least testing the water to see if the stakeholders are stuck or willing to
explore "compelling"! Very often what the stakeholders are asking for is just a
best guess -- a shot in a shadowy dusk -- that they full know is just that, but
they feel on-the-spot to indicate a direction. And they do, hoping that
exploring what will be great, will resolve what to do, what direction to take,
how to shape the system. And even if that were not so, if you know what great
is, and it is different from what is being asked for, you have a dilemma which
you may as well face! If you kowtow to power without attempting to lead, without
at least trying to facilitate a shift in mental map, in ideas and beliefs, then
you give up an opportunity to be great. Greatness doesn't come easy, without
opposition, doing just what you are told. It comes from doing simple things, from
finding natural paths, and so forth. Yes. But doing the things you know are
needed because they aren't yet being done, doing things right and well when this
is hard to do in the crush of daily demands.
Don't you just love today's xkcd?
Simon Munroe's ability to see the human in technical terms and vice versa is
just staggering! There is a lot of give and take, of communicating and
transforming, in relationships -- organizational and "personal" ...
Cynicism may creep up on us, but we have to route it out of ourselves! Leaders
can't be cynics and pessimists! Seeing and dealing with risk strategically, yes.
But not seeing things as undoable, too hard, too constrained and brittle... We
have to know that we can invite people to contribute to a better future
and they'll pitch in.
My latest book d'amour is Everyday Engineering. Funny that I should call it that -- wrongly, I'm
sure, but doing so
caused me to look at other uses which led me to Theatre D'Amour. The
latter is also a visual set of
emblematic images (though in the theatre of love, not engineering)! Serendipity!
Anyway, I am enamored with the little graphic engineering book
and excited by what it makes me see and think about! Take the cover: there is a
cut-away to reveal the internal structure and binding! How cool is that?
Everything we've ever seen in software systems is (metaphorically) visualized
in this book (though that wasn't the intent). Ok maybe not everything,
but a lot. The organization of the book speaks volumes too. Just so you don't
expect what it is not -- it is mostly simply photos, organized into sections
like Unseen, Interfaces, Function follows form, Sequences, Challenges. Many of
the images could characterized as visualizations of anti-patterns, but not all.
Everyday Engineering reminded me that at a workshop earlier this year a
really talented, technically acute architect full of the "'satiable
curtiosity" I so admire (especially since his questions came from such a
well-read, deep thinking, playfully problem solving place), recommended a book
which I wrote down on the flipchart for others to copy down, but I forgot to
take a photo of the flip! And I wonder if it is 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick? I'll
have to check with him, but in the meantime 101 Things looks like another
treasure of a book. Here are a few snips from 101 Things:
Well, that, and the visual that accompanies each of these gems, are enough to
persuade me to buy the book! The very next time I'm spending money on books,
that is. :-)
I'm really working on the "to lead is to draw" section of Part II of The
Art of Change. You do realize that, don't you? Of course I didn't, but
driving Sara to ballet it struck me that that indeed is why, at every
opportunity, I return to the views/draw design/lead set of concerns.
Why has it taken me so long to get that Report done, when all I had to do was
finish a section? Ok, it's like this. Several responses to Part I were of the
form "yes, but." "I love it, I agree with it, but..." The "but" took
various ostensible shapes, but boiling them down, reduced to: where I work,
architects are seen as those who solve the tough technical challenges of the
system, nothing more nor less. It is that "architects are on call 24-7 and fight
on-the-line fires." One response took the form of "let's leave the title
'architect' to those who buy off on architect as master of technical heroics
getting projects through crisis after crisis, and create a new title for the
system thinkers, the system designers, those who address the creation and
evolution of systems..." (I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist.)
And certainly there is a thrust in our field that focuses on the here and
now, rewarding save-the-day heroics but also carving up the responsibility space
so that decision making is chunked and management-as-process-integrator keeps
their hands tightly on the reigns of power. What system to create? What the
competition is doing, duh! What... oh, you get it. Both kinds of "architect" are
intensely technical; one is reactive and flashy and immediately driven, the
other is proactive, strategic, and ultimately more sustainable in market and
When put like that, I go "this is a big world, with room in it for many styles
of leadership" and many ways to be an architect, including a survival mode
circumscribed by a limiting technical and management culture. Still, the "yes,
but" responses are so erosive. I try to help by changing the context for
architects, by creating a way of seeing the role as a partnership with
management (not a threat) and engineering -- one which will produce better
outcomes for users and other stakeholders like the development team who have to
live out serious hours, days, weeks, and mounting years of their lives
intimately wrapped around the state of the system -- one that is a consuming
stress-inducing mess, or one which sustains exciting evolution! And I
can't do my part if architects respond "yes, but" and shrug their shoulders and
play to the type-casting that sidelines architecting as (early and ongoing)
system design. Culture is changed by leaders. Not overnight, but by having a
clear, compelling sense of what must be done, and doing that right hand-left
hand work. Crisis-driven begets further crises. It creates the illusion of
success in getting immediate obstacles surmounted, though it is paddling fast
without getting anywhere special. It is important not to keep doing that, isn't
Part II of The Art of Change was where I started -- with the tools of
leadership. I elevated the vision and context setting to a full Report and got
that shipped first (Part I,Fractal and Emergent). I'm not dispirited by the "yes, but"s so much as trying to figure out how to
cast Part II so that it is most helpful. I was grabbing the link to the "PICTURE
IT" video and was surprised to see that on November 2 it got a sudden spurt
(relatively speaking -- relative to 0 that is) of views. Of course my immediate
assumption is that someone used it in a class on presentation failures, but it
is another of those reminders that so long as no one recommends what I do, it is
as good as not done. Well, worse, because it leaves room to be derided. So
perhaps I should take the "yes but"s as kindly attempts to steer me in the
direction of being more "recommendable" in this architecting space. Still, I
persist because I think that as phenomenally successful as the software industry
is, it could, by any measure, stand to be improved and I devote myself to
understanding the big, impactful ways to do that and to focus the levers of
change I can muster at those spots. So, I'm looking for the toggle that will
switch from "yes, but' to "Yes! I'm excited to try something here."
And perhaps, once in a while, a peer recommendation or even simply a link.
I've seen in my mind's eye how I would illustrate the "hairballs" post (11/3
above), but... why bother? You wouldn't miss it, and if not you, then
In architecture, we strive for simplicity in various forms. For instance,
capturing in simple essential form something very sophisticated. I try to do
that with archman. Take my first Archman sketch (right): a simple
little conceptual architecture of a figure bearing the behavior of the system.
The figure that so many poke fun at (meaning the box and line drawing that is
the conceptual architecture diagram) -- that sketchy simple figure that conveys
through abstraction, metaphor, visual and textual cues to unfolding narrative,
the whole system. Archman is simple. Sometimes whimsical. And generally conveys
some quite sophisticated insight, hard-wrung from experience and close
observation and attention. You know, like the point about structure that conveys
behavior. Obvious, yes, but how many definitions of architecture neglect this?
So, again, why bother? Because it's fun! In the cold silence, that has to
be enough. Then again, why not? Because there's a lot to be done! What would tip
the scales of desire (we do, you well know, mostly what we desire with what time
is left after we do what we must)? Oh, yeah, right. Again, why?
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
capacity to see comes from persistently analyzing our reactions to what we look
at and their significance as far as we are concerned. The more one looks, the
more one will come to see…”-- Louis Kahn
But you do get the point behind the point don't you? That simple figure can
speak volumes if the viewer anticipates that it will. How it (the archman
sketch) is seen, depends on
the viewer (that's you), on how you view the (ahem) artist/architect (me), and the thing itself. So, if you
come across Archman "cold," it is just a crude sketch, and you need me to
explain how it is more than just boxes and lines, to tell you in so many words
the import of the figure. Likewise with conceptual architecture. Some
stakeholders will willingly read into the names and the relationships, will
willing hold the thing in some creative suspension without dinging your
credibility as you unfold the meaning of the boxes. And some will just go "it is
simple and stupid" -- like a number of reviewers of the Everyday Engineeringbook who would not credit the book for its visual
metaphor and the lessons it holds so compactly because it invites us to engage
with the author(s) in making the meaning. Any kind of metaphor, analogy,
condensation of meaning into some simple representative abstraction, is going to
require goodwilling on the part of the viewer -- giving credit to the person who
distilled complexity into such simplicity, and actively entering into a dialog
with the meaning of the thing.
If you didn't get that, the short of it is: we need to write words that explain
the visual abstractions, the elements and relationships, the meaning or
purpose... It is a form of representational re-description that Howard Gardner
talks about in Changing Minds. And more.
So we have archman as a conceptual architecture figure conveying the behavior of
the system. Conveying -- illustrating, describing, moving from my mind to yours.
Conveying -- conducting, being the conduit for, enabling. Conveying -- serving.
Serving the development team with models that illustrate. Serving users with
behaviors or functions. Serving the business.
If you have goodwill towards me, we can assume that in your view I have
(intellectual) authority or command of my zone of expertise, and you will assume
there is something interesting there. And you will look for it. The whole tenet
of the Everyday Engineeringbook is that it will speak to an audience who
credits it with something worth looking for. And when one looks with positive
expectation, at least in the case of Everyday Engineering, one finds vividly portrayed insight into so many
dimensions of engineering.
So, if you're going "oh wow, I never saw so much in the little sketch" remember
that with respect to your conceptual architecture diagram! Named boxes and
lines. How simple and stupid. Not at all! But you have to work on the attitude of your audience with respect to you and your work, and on the words that
elaborate the boxes and lines just enough to convey the intent, in some cases,
or considerably more to specify, in others. Words. Spoken words because they are
interactive and participative and so vivid and engaging and can be dynamically
redirected to explore or address a concern or point of interest. And written
words because they endure, and are thought-out and can be rich and exciting too
especially when they invite an asynchronous dialog or inquisitive
questing/questioning/responding in the mind of the reader.
Interesting that it can take quite so many words to talk about one little
sketch. A little optimistic, playful figure, perky and willing. How many words,
then, would it take to probe The Bullfrog in Parsimony? I do admire David Troupes (Buttercup Festival) and really have to
order Parsimony. (There's another glimpse here.)
But given all the words of our million LOC systems, what simple pictures should
we draw? Alexander
said of patterns, "if you can't draw a
picture of it, it isn't a pattern." At what point will we say "if you
can't draw it, it isn't architecture"? Architecture is (at least) the structure of the
system designed to deliver, through collaboration and interaction among the
constituent elements, the desired capabilities* of the system. And we ought to
(be able to) draw that! But drawing -- designing those elements at varying
degrees of elaboration and abstraction, taking different views on the complex of
structures to design and elucidate how various capabilities are to be built or
evolved -- is not everyone's "cup of tea."
These diagrams are a medium for and the visual expression of design thinking. Of
course I don't mean it is only or all about visual models. For example,
technology choices may show up on models, but not necessarily, and certainly the
reasoning behind the choices needs to be expressed in words so that our
thinking, deliberating on stakeholder goals and concerns, connecting to business
drivers and assertions we make given a diligent, honest look at technology
capabilities and directions, is communicated and preserved. And, frankly,
thought about more rigorously, because writing, as with visual representation
(whether in "art" -- subjective, or in a "model" -- "objective"), makes us think
more thoroughly, investigate more angles (if we listen to those various voices
in our minds that "help us get more thinking done"**), etc.
That said, visual models are good for thinking about and seeing relationships,
which may be structural or temporal or cause-and-effect. Oh dear. This is
starting to sound like ☼PICTURE
And... a whole lot more that I don't have time to write and you don't have time
to read because insight is all well and good but some things, not just understanding and passion,
have to be built in the world too.
* behaviors or functionality with properties users and other stakeholders care
enough about to make the system compelling and useful, even meaningful -- and
** I'm just quoting an earlier journal entry so that I remember to link it in my
non-public journal view.
Reality doesn't exist "out there." Reality is something we construct, literally
in physical things, but also in how we see and interpret, construct and
deconstruct them. A good cartoon is an encounter with reality just as surely as
bumping into a door (in the dark) you expected to be open is an encounter with
reality. The thing about architecture models is that at first they are models of
something that does not exist, that we are exploring bringing into existence.
Later, they are models partly of what exists, and partly what we are exploring.
Our models are representations of some key aspects of a "reality" that we want
to bring about, and some aspects that already exist -- are realized, and in some
way "real." But this whole "reality" thing is a very slippery slope when we
realize that what we see with our own eyes is not what is out there, but
something that is constructed in our brains, interacting with our minds (engaged
in sense-making). As we move from physical objects, which we imbue with meaning
like utility, to concepts like utility, we start to feel that "reality" shifting
under our feet. We define Recession in some way that economists decide so that
it can be objectively identified, and tell the countless people who are
unemployed that we're no longer in a Recession. Hmm. Reality is a very mutable
While I was dusting some of the lovely pieces of art we've collected over the
years, I was thinking about what constitutes a beautiful life, living a
beautiful life (you know, because the juxtaposition of pet dander/entropy and
art/creation raises such a question... I mean, it's what you think about when
you're battling entropy, right? Like, how do we balance blazing like a comet
with ...um crud...). How complex the matter is! Well, whatever it is, it includes
Tim Reed is Ryan's voice teacher, so here's something that is close to us:
Owls" ... Imagine George Winston meets Schubert and Chopin, often with soaring
vocals, sung by [Tim Reed] and the amazing Brown Sisters. You can enjoy the
music on this CD and help people in need. [Tim is] donating $1 for each CD sold
and 10 cents for each download to the Monroe/Owen Chapter of The American Red
Cross. ... [You can buy them] on the web at CDbaby. It will soon be available on
iTunes and Amazon, and over 20 other websites as well."
You can sample Euphoric Owls here. Tim Reed is amazing -- so talented in his own right, and
so joyous and fun that he is able to work incredibly effectively with a very
wide spectrum of kids (in terms of their preferred genre, but also personality).
They have a recital tomorrow afternoon that, alas, I have to miss to fly to
Boston. I heard some of the rehearsal today, and it only made me more sorry to
miss tomorrow's performance. These kids are alight with that lively fire that a
spirit following its bliss lights up, and I thrill at it!
In Bloomington we have soaring trees and soaring spirits. I love seascapes
and rugged mountains, and I miss them! But I do so enjoy the music and the fun
people have with it in this town! Who'd have thought... in the middle of
Indiana, you'd have hardwood forests and such music (from orchestra and opera to
jazz to bluegrass or "folk roots with the dirt still on")! It is fun to have, in
one family, a harp playing, ballet-dancing girl and a mandolin and banjo
playing, singing Woody Guthrie-styled boy. Ball gowns and blue jeans! IU's
gorgeous music halls and downscale pizza places. All the ways, and all the
venues, in which we might find a beautiful life, and live it.
"Myspace unveiled a new website on
Wednesday focused on sharing videos, music, games and other media, as it tries
to recapture the buzz that led it to top the social-networking sphere before
being eclipsed in recent years by Facebook Inc.
...The new site, which began rolling out to
users Wednesday, has been in the works for eight months. ...
In addition to redesigning the look and
functionality of the site, Myspace says it overhauled its back-end technology
system. Previously, the site was clunky, with search features not always working
and games taking time to load. The redesign attempts to streamline search
technologies and speed up pages, Mr. Jones said."
This is an "interesting" story... there are so many lessons in it...
Much of the commentary is saddening; humanity is in such a bad place, and such a
great place. We live in side-by-side realities that are made -- interpreted,
shaped and impacted -- by how people choose to see the world.
Sad too... what shows up on MySpace... I snipped one statement of the population
Myspace is targeting (WSJ MarketWatch image below), but I've seen it stated
various places that they're targeting roughly 12 to 35 year olds:
Now look at what is on today's music page -- one click from the home page, and
presumably meant to be popular/attract anyone interested in checking out the new
Image: composition of snips from Myspace.com and Myspace.com/music on
November 14, 2010, with highlights to draw out the strikingly high profile given
to a decidedly not-teen-friendly playlist...
Don't even bother looking up the lyrics to what your teen would be introduced
to... In the category of "a picture is worth a 1000 words," those images convey
a lot about the identity of the new Myspace...
Image: Snip of Tim O'Reilly's tweet stream on 11/14/10
If your community trends sleaze, that will create a self-fulfilling future... I
stumbled on Tim O'Reilly's tweets above, because I wanted to compare what the
Twitter community was tweeting up in the same timeframe as the Myspace music
page was giving front-page status to "middle class rut"...
If architects don't think through scenarios... and create strategies...
On a lighter note. I have noticed that "head crush" and "fall in love with the
mind of" is becoming an acceptable meme. Natalie Merchant confesses to having had a crush on RLS since she was a
teenager, and here is Tim OReilly not quite confessing but suggesting we might
want likewise to fall in love with the mind of the man.
I was reading notes from John Steinbeck's Journal from the timeframe when
he wrote The Grapes of Wrath, and it occurs to me I am quite promiscuous
when it comes to falling in love with minds! Um, put like that it sounds iffy.
Still, reading, with active engagement, the thought trails left by great minds
is the stuff of eureka's that flood the brain with insight reward response.
Back to the darkness that ever haunts our world: there is something similar,
perhaps, in the machinations going on around Steinbeck in Salinas and
machinations in conservative politics in the US today...
Prezi -- kind of like a
zoomable presentation wall, I suppose... I'd like not just zoom, but to be
able to pan out to an abstracted view, and pan in to a detailed view... I
guess I want overlays, not just a space bigger than a page... This
prezi is right up my alley at present: Mixing
mind and metaphor.
I think there is something important in the pan and zoom, view abstractions and
hone in selectively on details, set of functionality that is important to
information presentation problems like code understanding/navigation/searching
and other areas where the complexity of the details overwhelms the senses if
that is where we start.
As canvas's go, I love the "where
good ideas come from" build up to a light bulb image. It would be neat to
have that as a Prezi, because then one could go back over the image map,
focusing in on visual elements and soaking in the visual metaphor. As "finding
good ideas" goes, I'd want to add "get your hands dirty" (learn from "failure"
or learn from trying and surfacing assumptions and new ideas) along with
connections (with patterns like liquid networks, adjacent possible, ...).
Serendipity, I think, is the collective name of angels (wink) who work behind
the scenes of progress, but Elizabeth Gilbert calls them genies or "genius" of
creativity. In other words, we allow ourselves the pleasure of the eureka
connection but give credit to the connection and the forerunners of the
connection. Humility leaves us open to influence, to connections. Confidence
allows us to proceed, humble though we may feel. To the arrogant, these may seem
like odd fellows to bed down in one person, but to the humble person confidence
or self-assurance is not at odds with humility.
Pundits are pitching "Web 3.0" as the "semantic web." Personally, I'd be excited
to think of it as the "collaborative web" which would include collaboration to
create meaning, and meaningful interactions.
Commenting on the idea of work-life balance and the pursuit of profits vs. the
pursuit of passion and meaning, Tim O'Reilly said "They don't need to be balanced, they need
to be integrated."
I second that! Here's another quote from the same paper:
"Time is a great
teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." —
Hector Louis Berlioz.
Now, I did notice as I glanced over the paper, that they
recommend "clear your desk at the end of each day." My kids
already know Einstein's famous line:
“If a cluttered desk is
a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty
desk?” –Albert Einstein
I wonder why they should, at 7 and 9, already have reason to
Now, I think blogging (or, if you're shy, "journaling") has
be high on the time manager's list of Don'ts. Right up there
with "don't check email more than twice a day." And right
after "don't reply to email." In fact, you could get so much
more done if you just don't communicate. Hmmm.
All this I relate to conundrums around "a beautiful life"
and MC Escher's Eye.
Given requests, I need to schedule an open Architectural Leadership
Workshop. I'm thinking of extending it to 4 days, so I can include a bunch of
topics we're really excited about. Dana and I need to co-teach the first one in
this format, so I'm thinking of holding it in Bloomington, IN. How about
February 22-25? That's 3 months away, but the Holidays always impact enrollments
as people just aren't paying attention to training while finding the perfect
gift to show grandma how much she's loved and valued... One of the neat things
about having people all travel in for a workshop is that we can then do some fun
leadership development activities in the evenings with leadership and innovation
games, etc., and really ratchet up the extended experience. That kind of thing
pushes my comfort envelope, but it is good to step beyond one's boundaries once
in a while. Indeed, Dana uses this Bucky Fuller quote to motivate just such
"Whenever I draw a circle, I
immediately want to step out of it." -- Buckminster Fuller
Looking up the specific wording of that Bucky Fuller aphorism, I came across
"You never change things by fighting the
existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing
model obsolete. "
Yes, we're very much about presenting a new model of how to approach
software design! It is so neat that most architects get it (the new model and
the need for it), too!
One Bucky Fuller quote leads to another (I
confess I haven't read Bucky Fuller the way Dana has, though I've listened to -- not enough of -- his "what I know" core-dump lecture), and there are some
that sparkle with systems thinking insights applicable to software. Consider,
"There is nothing in a caterpillar that
tells you it's going to be a butterfly." -- R. Buckminster Fuller
There is so much that comes of interaction and emergence in software systems,
that a class is much like that caterpillar! This has implications for software
visualization, and the exhortation to think in terms of interlocking views.
Grady Booch has been coaching our field along these lines (in his SoftVis 2010
capstone presentation last month, for example). Of course we have also been
doing this, emphasizing context and behavioral views* not just structural views,
and talking about threads of reasoning that cross views, and in another example,
in the Fractal and Emergent paper, I said of EA views:
"...each overlay takes a separate concern
as a focus and leaves other concerns off the view. Other views are more like
cutaways, exposing a key interaction among various systems [or components] of
different kinds." -- The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent
That is one approach to "interlocking views," and we (at Bredemeyer and as a
field) need to be more inventive, extending, reinventing, reimaging, (re)connecting,
improving these inter-relating, interwoven views still further. So we can
extract the minimal set that "Pareto" the work in creation and
Speaking of maintenance... when someone pushes back on visual models saying
they "just get out of date," I want to simply raise my eyebrows and ask "so what
are you going to do about that?" But that would be more ornery than I'm
comfortable being (the thought is spot-on but the reaction would be to put that
individual in a public hot-seat, which isn't nice). It's a thought though, isn't
it? If the architect doesn't take a stand on the architecture getting out of
date, who will? If the architect doesn't sign up to protect time -- to motivate
for and educate management and ensure that time is taken -- to mature and evolve
the architecture, all is lost! No-one else has the system purview and
strategic/longer-term view... So, I make the point that we have to follow the Minimalist
Architecture and With Teeth principles, and then nurture the set of
decisions that, given those principles, fall within the architecture decision
set. We have to tend the design, the architecture, as others must tend
code. They tend locally, while we tend the system. The difference is crucial.
The caterpillar only has to worry about being a caterpillar. We have to see it
through becoming a butterfly and seeding the next cycle of life. Well, um,
Metaphorically. Yes. Something about boxes and abstractions. Coplien and
Bjørnvig, in Lean Architecture, state "architecture is more about compression than
it is about abstraction." But they appeal to a definition of abstraction
that is narrow, while compression we are given to understand through reference
to its use in poetry. I can see the case for using both, though
my use then leans toward that associated with abstraction in visual
art. Each lends insight into what we are doing especially with Conceptual
Architecture. In the Making It Visual presentation, I used both
abstraction and compression (as well as, for example, panning and zooming –
memorably portrayed in the movie by Charles and Ray Eames called Powers of 10). What begins with
abstraction progresses through, among other things, analogical reasoning and the
application of patterns, as we discover and make meaning -- and as the meaning
(and reification) grows, we shift to using compression. The same boxes
(potentially, though they may morph as we refactor), go from abstract forms to a
compression of all the intent and beginning, then eventual, reification in code.
Well, you're getting an idea of what I want to do at SATURN 2011. So, thinking
of joining me? Or better still, joining us for the extended Architectural
Leadership workshop? Yes, there'll be a session on thinking in and outside
* this can be traced to my "Fusion days" when,
under Derek Coleman's leadership, we explored both structure and behavior in
system design. Of course the focus, in Fusion, was at the object level, so we
parlayed that insight into the design of architectural structures.
I enjoyed Eric Berlow's ☼TED
talk of this title and of course relate it to VAP's encouragement to drill
in and return to revise/mature/rethink/improve the conceptual architectural
view(s). By that I only mean to encourage you to think about both, and relate
"Beauty is nature's way of acting at a distance." -- Dennis
Which calls to mind
another Bucky Fuller classic:
"When I'm working on a problem, I never
think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have
finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -- R.
Finding simplicity in
complexity, reducing a system that buzzes with apparent complexity to something
simple, generates in us a feeling of encountering beauty.
Life, like complex systems, holds in creative suspension, many apparent
contradictions and counterforces. Anomalies. Surprising juxtapositions. The
immense beauty of the great mind (a product of work, real work in attaining
mastery), and evidence of its humanity. Both being important to our attraction
Humanity, I want to say, which takes substance in the best sense of compassion,
empathy, gentleness, generosity, joy... But I recognize that in the "natural
selection" sense, it may, at least for some, take the form of alpha
Ultimately, I think we are (generally) drawn to the beauty in minds and in
Nature. That is Darwinian selection. The "God spot" in the brain. Both.
This world does beset beliefs! More Bucky Fuller:
"Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I
think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering." -- R. Buckminster
Finding beauty while accommodating imperfection. Finding
simplicity in complexity. Not being paralyzed by ambiguity, working conceptually
and with the abstract to draw form into meaningful structures adapted to build
capability and deliver value even as we explore what value is and what
capabilities it signifies! It brings this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote to mind:
"The test of a first rate
intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed
ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be
determined to make them otherwise."
Looking for that "Mozart's
Sketches" paper in a .pdf I could access without paying $19 for
one day's access, I came across Jeff Howard's "Design for Service" blog. His
transcript of Don Norman's talk at the Institute of Design in Chicago is a must read! Don
Norman really plays the contrarian... Still, I have to admire a guy who puts photos of
toilet paper in a book on living with complexity! Grin. Seriously!
Ok, back to Jeff Howard. Here are some neat posts on the design of services (in
the business/customer service sense not the SOA sense): Sketching in Music; Sketching in Choreography; Sketching in Film and Sketching in Screenwriting. The material Jeff references is interesting and
many of his insights apply, though sometimes with interpretation/translation to
system design and component interactions. Ok, some would get eyes rolling even
out there in the land of innovation and breakthrough design, and definitely
raise defense postures/mechanisms in software circles... So? It's outside the
circle! Worth a moment, don't you think? Not everything we encounter applies,
and there is the important matter of individual taste and proclivity. But we
advance through making connections between -- sometimes surprising -- existing
approaches, knowledge, capabilities.
In Fractal and Emergent,
I made much of designing to delight, or design excellence, or design to
differentiate, to make things more the way we, our business, and our customers
and users want things to be. And that this ripples through the value network and
specifically applies to services, not only products. Customer experience design
is shifting back into the limelight, with, for example, Jim Love's Cutter Report
"Customer Experience: How Technology Can Contribute -- Or Kill It" and
this call for papers from Cutter:
"CALL FOR PAPERS Cutter IT Journal Guest
Editor: Jim Love Abstract Submission Date: 2 December 2010 Articles Due: 10
Rebooting The Customer Experience
In a recent report, "Customer Experience:
How Technology Can Contribute -- Or Kill It," I made the case that the self-same
technology that was supposed to bring about a revolution in how organizations
serve customers had actually had a profoundly negative impact. Instead of
ushering in an new era in customer service automation technology, it has caused
or been complicit in alienating our customers and brought about what I
euphemistically call the "cranky customer". In reality, the issue is much more
serious than the term might suggest. It has a direct impact on corporate bottom
line as customer churn and rampant customer dissatisfaction become the new
How did things go so wrong? The answers are
many and varied. But regardless of why it has happened, the result is clear. In
all too many occurrences, technology has enraged and not engaged the customer.
As I noted, my previous report deals with
the overall impact. Despite its negative findings, we did find some (all too
few) bright spots and areas where technology had been used successfully. While
there is much to be learned from an honest examination of our failures, there is
a point at which that becomes merely "admiring the problem". There is also a
great deal to be learned by finding approaches which have enabled, or which hold
the promise of enabling a positive customer experience.
This is our challenge for this upcoming
edition of Cutter IT Journal and one which I am thrilled to share with all of
you -- companies, IT professionals, consultants and yes, even customers.
In this issue of the Journal we would like
to focus on how IT has or can enable what customer experience guru Lou Carbone
has called Customer Experience 2.0. While we do welcome ways in which mainstream
approaches can be improved, we are looking for new and exciting ideas -- that's
why I've termed this "Rebooting the Customer Experience." How can we create
excellence in customer experience for the new customers of the 21st century?
Customer Experience 2.0, our "reboot", is
more than simply fixing some of the issues that are most troubling. This is not
about "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." It's an opportunity for us to
re-envision how we leverage technology to attract, service, satisfy and yes --
perhaps even delight customers. The manifesto of Customer Experience 2.0, the
reboot, echoes what the writers of the Cluetrain Manifesto boldly stated 11
years ago when they wrote: "We are not eyeballs or clicks -- we are human beings
and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it!" 
If there was a manifesto for this "reboot"
-- the Customer Experience 2.0 Manifesto would say things like: * If you really
want to have a relationship with me, the customer, each encounter must deliver
value. * I trust people, not companies. Convince me that you speak in an
authentic voice. * Show me experiences of others just like me. * When I have a
problem, I don't want you to be limited by your processes. * My time is precious
-- don't waste it. If you need my time, make the experience worth the
investment. * If you can't delight me, someone else can -- and they are just a
How can we imagine and leverage technology
that can meet these new needs?"
-- email from Cutter Consortium, 11/16/10
Not relevant to architects? Really? No, seriously, really? If we don't start to
take ownership of value even though we clearly partner with others on
imagineering what value is and selecting what value to deliver and how, we will
never address issues around technology undermining value while it delivers on
poorly conceived commitments. We have to get real about the complexity of
systems and the concurrent combination of immense, exciting, powerful creative
and engineering abilities and the fallibility of humans! We carve things up to
manage, to cope. And because we do, we have this role, this center of expertise,
that looks across, that designs across boundaries -- boundaries between the
system and its various contexts (of use, and its value stream, business and
technology context), and within the system, and boundaries between
the knowledge spaces and turfs that come together to design and build the
system. Architects design systems. Designing with greater intentionally by
reasoning about structures and interactions across structural boundaries, and
paying attention to emergence to feed intentionality into the next evolutionary
Aside: This comment on Don Norman's Design Thinking: A Useful Myth column on Core77 made me aware of something
that niggled but wasn't explicitly formed in my mind:
People comment for different (not necessarily mutually exclusive) reasons:
to get heard, to have a place where their
voice/commentary/ideas are added to that of the blogger. The more attention
the blogger gets, the more ripple-through attention...
to interact with the "speaker" who otherwise is not
accessible, or engageable, in a conversation the blogger/social forum
to interact with the ideas and the community that is
nudging them around, seeking to advance them
and um... to vent spleen... kind of like the schoolyard
Mostly, people like to help, to improve the thinking, to offer ideas and
experiences or humor! Helping the luminary advance their thinking is
beguiling for many reasons, including the multiplier effect that the luminary
has -- which is to say, the difference made goes further.
Now, I have not done much to cultivate a community that wants to help me think,
to improve my knowledge and process, mostly because I feel vulnerable to the
bullies -- being not just a sensitive person but also a person responsible for
more than my self. Where I have it, I very much value it for it serves me in so
Back to Don Norman:
This struck me as having some (distant and indirect) relation to Don Norman's
contrarian style... Of Gustave Flaubert, wikipedia notes:
"He can be said to have made
cynicism into an art form, as evinced by this observation from 1846:
'To be stupid, and selfish,
and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness;
though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.'"
The relation to Don Norman? Well, it would go along the lines of "he can be said
to have made being contrarian into an art form." A more kind assessment of Don
Norman's style comes by way of some bumper sticker wisdom Dana recounted:
"comfort the distressed and distress the
Especially the "distress the comfortable" part. I think Don Norman would like
I came upon Gustave Flaubert because last night at Ryan's school's open house, I
was reading a high school student's essay that was on display so visitors and
parents could get a sense of the work that is done there. In the essay, this
line was quoted:
"The most glorious
moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those
days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life,
and the promise of future accomplishments."
-- Gustave Flaubert
Why do I mention this in the context of community? Because sometimes I think
that enthusiasm for what I do would reach to me when I despair. And I have to
remind myself of the Hugh MacLeod exhortation to "ignore everybody." But these
words of a French novelist quoted by a Chinese teenager now in an American high
school, remind me that writing is a self-driven thing. That when our spirit
rebels and protests its relevance and sparkle-brightness, that is the moment of
genesis of the new thing we will birth into this world.
"I have come to have the firm conviction
that vanity is the basis of everything, and finally that what one calls
conscience is only inner vanity." -- Gustave Flaubert
I just listened to Grady Booch's latest IEEE on
Architecture column on Systems
Architecture. It is superb! Truly! It is such a delight to read or
listen to. Grady has certainly found his zone of excellence and the voice with
which to lead our field compellingly. I'm awed! And thrilled!
Seeing Grady reach an ever higher zenith of excellence reminds me... Jeff Bezos
introduced us to his "regret minimization framework." For me, regret would take
a grim shape if I had nothing to show for my talents and time. This would
include my writing, but more importantly my impact on people.
I have not read any Flaubert novels, but here are some funny, some poignant,
some startlingly nail-on-the-head-hitting Gustave Flaubert quotes:
We must not touch our idols; the gilt comes
off in our hands.
Do not read, as children do, to amuse
yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in
order to live.
Here is true immorality: ignorance and
stupidity; the devil is nothing but this. His name is Legion.
The art of writing is the art of
discovering what you believe.
I am a man-pen. I feel through the pen,
because of the pen.
As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and
theories for which we have no use.
Oh, if I had been loved at the age of
seventeen, what an idiot I would be today. Happiness is like smallpox: if you
catch it too soon, it can completely ruin your constitution.
-- Gustave Flaubert
Unhappy Flaubert. Those who love us, if they do it well, act as a mirror of our best self in
which we find external validation or confirmation and, perhaps, a better sense
of ourselves. We desire to be more our best self, because they will see that
best self and honor it. I mean honor in the positive sense of respect and beholding
in wonder, as a person who works on their inner self to give rise to good and
useful outcomes in the world ought to be beheld. Yes, that may be Flaubert's
vanity. And personally, I tend to agree that vanity or pride or self-affirmation
is important and healthy; it is only in excess (or deficiency) that we become
lopsided and arrogant (or disabled by lack of confidence and self-worth).
Flaubert also said:
Caught up in life, you see it badly. You
suffer from it or enjoy it too much. The artist, in my opinion, is a
monstrosity, something outside of nature. -- Gustave Flaubert
Everyone has their foibles, their blindspots. We can only hope that by
benefiting from and seeing through other's eyes sometimes, we compensate for our
own fallibilities. Flaubert, it seems, led a lonely, self-reliant life.
As I see it, to be a writer is to be an actor in that coursing of life and an observer, analytical and distant. Yet our experience, our immersion in the
pain and joy of life, is what gives our observer the ability to empathize and
So, life -- the hurly burly responsibilities and joys of "normal" life -- is
at once a distraction and a necessity. Necessary to the spirit, and necessary to
sharing enough of the human condition to write relevantly and insightfully.
Beyond that, there are different styles. I have chosen, at least in this
vehicle, the journal style. I have chosen it, or allowed myself to be seduced
into it, because our industrialized society,
so richly enabled by technology, is too often also dehumanized by it. Yes, under
the cloak of anonymity, too many people are mean on the internet. But also at
work, many choose or succumb to the "machine-like" compartmentalization of
occupation and feeling under the label of professionalism and objectivity and
"just doing a job." Yet we seek meaning, and better integration of our personal
selves with our work life. And so I choose the very personal expression, the "I"
of a journal, to make my stand on the principle that meaning and technology and
creating business value are not necessarily at odds. We don't have to divorce
our work persona from our inner self to harness technology to extend and serve
and enhance the experience of humanity. The best of humanity.
"Mr. Turner said there were 44,000 unique
Stuxnet computer infections worldwide through last week and 1,600 in the United
States. Sixty percent of the infections were in Iran, including several
employees' laptops at the Bushehr nuclear plant.
Iran has said it thinks Stuxnet is part of
a Western plot to sabotage its nuclear program, but experts see few signs of
major damage at Iranian facilities.
A senior government official warned during
the hearing that attackers can use information made public about the Stuxnet
worm to develop variations targeting other industries, affecting the production
of everything from chemicals to baby formula."
"Through its analysis of the code, Symantec
has figured out the intricacies of files and instructions that Stuxnet injects
into the programmable logic controller commands, but Symantec doesn't have the
context involving what the software is intended to do, because the outcome
depends on the operation and equipment infected. "We know that it says to set
this address to this value, but we don't know what that translates to in the
real world," Chien said. To map what the code does in different environments,
Symantec is looking to work with experts who have experience in multiple
critical infrastructure industries. " -- Stuxnet: Fact vs.
Theory, CNet, 10/5/10
Much speculation is circulating, covering various dimensions of the stuxnet
threat. While it is plausible that this "has to be" a nation-state-backed
attack, it is also plausible that a small group of determined cultish zealots or
vigilantes could create malware with sufficient sophistication to do huge
We have truly entered the era where everyone "on the side of good" in software
has a role to play in preventing evil. On an email signature, an IT architect at
a financial services company has the following quote from his 4 year old son:
"I’m going to
build things to stop the bad people, just like Dad does."
I have seen superman, and he is you!
General FUD is the most impactful vector of terrorism currently disrupting
socio-economic life and we impose it upon ourselves, with "increased
security" at airports way up there on the list. We are visiting (arguably
unconstitutional) invasions of privacy on innocent people simply because they
travel, and everyone, including teens (and children?), are victims! Search
without cause? It is a subject of concern in schools following the NPR airing on the issue -- and so it should be.
Everyone has their foibles, their blindspots. By
benefiting from and seeing through other's eyes sometimes, we compensate for our
own fallibilities. Our experience and imagination give us the ability to empathize
and analogize. It is awesomely powerful, and self-limiting. New information,
often from the vantage point of fresh perspective, helps us shift mindset.
Shift, or at least open up our perspective to fresh influence, new connections
or even just nuances which, through differential shading, make something
important ca-chink into view.
Collaboration magnifies minds. Leaders are effective at harnessing
collaboration to achieve the astonishing -- to (in Steve Jobs' words) "put
a ding in the Universe."
The art of writing is the art of
discovering what you believe. -- Gustave Flaubert
We could cast that in more engineer-palatable terms: when we write, we don't
simply record what we know, we reason new connections and approaches into
testable and communicable form. Writing and/or modeling is a mechanism for
sense-making, and sense-rearranging. For problem discovery and problem solving.
It is an avenue for morphing our mindset, and to present mindset-change inviting
information to others. The art of collaborating is the art of blending, bumping,
navigating, negotiating different mindsets. It is true, we can collaborate quite
effectively asynchronously through reading, but while real-time lively
interaction is more vulnerable to the interpersonal space created, it also holds
more open-ended, course-changing, generative possibility. Moreover, it creates
shared ownership, deeper understanding and alignment.
Grady Booch's Systems
Architecture (no. 26) paper is a wonderful tapestry of insights colored by drawing on the classics in our field and beyond, extending even to Greek myths and the Old
Testament. It is focused on the theme of systems architecture and the peculiarities,
especially to do with failures, of complex systems that challenge system
architects and, in particular, software architects. The selections of
punchy aphorisms that support and illustrate his thinking, and the additions of
Grady's own insight and colorful recommendations, reveal his acute understanding
of our software architecture field, and a curious questing beyond its boundaries
to draw connections from other fields to illuminate this one. It is superbly,
artistically done. Yet every bit a pragmatic engineering discourse.
Weaving first a backdrop characterizing complexity in software systems, Booch
draws on Fred Books' statements on the essential complexity in software systems,
"they bring fundamental challenges to
discrete systems since they exhibit non-continuous behavior, often embody a
combinatorial explosion of state space, and may be corrupted by unexpected
Booch goes on to quote from and reflect on Flood and Carson's Dealing with
"such systems have a number of triggers of
complexity, because of the huge number of interactions, parts and degrees of
freedom. Furthermore, discrete software-intensive systems often exhibit
non-linearity, broken symmetry and, due to nonholonomic constraints, what Flood calls 'localized transient anarchy'."
He states provocatively "all complex systems fail" at some point, but quickly
characterizes failures as ranging across invisible, benign, "just plain
annoying," to "positively painful if not fatal." This
characterization is vivid and so memorable. Perhaps we can get to a more
complete characterization if we see "annoying and painful" as a compression of
the psychosomatic, social and economic cost of frustration, inconvenience and
wasted time. And fatal as a compression of compromised safety and security of
person and property. Given the artistic cast of the work, I'd certainly grant
this compression and more within the colorful phrases!
He further notes that "all
systems will fail when operated outside their design envelope" and systems
fail due to:
direct chain of events triggered by the failure of a single component
(e.g., o ring failure in shuttle disaster, a branch falling on a power line
triggering a large-scale blackout in NE)
unexpected interaction of subsystems that are otherwise functioning
properly (e.g., failure of Mojave generating station in Nevada in 1971)
unexpected consequence of their operation (e.g., introducing cane toads
to attack pests)
I would put that last as: unexpected interaction of the system with its context
-- as is likely, when the context shifts, or the system is placed in a new
(system-of-systems) context. Moreover, "unintended consequences" is an important
dimension (or product) of system failure and applies to both interaction of
subsystems and interaction of the system with its context. Indeed, the structure
of that broadening of the locus from part, to system, to system in context is
important, because it sheds light on how we address the creation and evolution
of robust, resilient systems. Which returns us to the unexpected consequences
dimension, but again, emergence does not only arise from the system in context,
but also from the relationship between and interaction among parts. Again, Mr.
Booch has used powerful, evocative compression, but allowing (with the benefit
of reflecting on the insight Grady has drawn out for us) the
simple structure to emerge illuminates how we might define the problem and
approach its solution.
I did miss the set of failures that relate to fit to
purpose and intent, by which I mean "failures of imagination and process" in the
words of Mr. Booch, but in another setting. The failures he is talking about
here, are failures of the system under operation more in the area of compromised
structural integrity rather than issues of fit to purpose or user intent. If we
frame this in terms of compromised structural integrity, we immediately see another
dichotomy, which is internally induced/triggered compromises and externally
induced/triggered compromises. When a backhoe cuts a fiber-optic cable, that is
qualitatively different failure than a system disabling memory leak or other
issues to do with resource co-ordination under the purview and control of the
system design. The point of raising attention to these other dimensions, is that
they speak to (surfacing) different strategies. In the "internal" case, we do
what we can to prevent failures, and then provide trapping and recovery
strategies as the next set of measures. In the other, we can work to bring a
potential threat within the system boundaries (to include trees hanging over
power lines, for example) so that we can better control it, but we may be
limited to working with discovery, containment and recovery; that is, localizing
the impact of a failure, so that it doesn't cascade into failures of greater
consequence, fixing the problem and recovering (as well as possible) from the
impact of the failure.
Booch quotes To Engineer is Human:
"we advance by improving on those things
that work, and fixing those that don't"
This is taken to mean building software systems incrementally and by
evolutionary adaptation, but we mustn't forget that design is an important way
to apply what we have learned about things that work to new systems! We apply
reasoning and experience, the building body of knowledge our field has chosen
for the most part to formalize as design patterns, and experiment as well as iterative, incremental and evolutionary development!
It is an elegantly minimalist paper that well illustrates the iceberg of system
complexity, failure and redress. By encountering it actively, we advance our own
understanding, building on the understanding it lights in us. The increments of
insight by no means indicate the limits of Grady's understanding, only the ways
in which he challenged me to extend the boundaries of my own.
As awesome as the paper is and as much as Grady compactly covers, I'm afraid to
say he completely missed this approach to addressing failure,
but here, thanks to Dana Bredemeyer, is:
I call it "expanding the boundaries of the system." Like adding
servers to address a perplexing system (mis)behavior. ;-)
Here is another neat example of
looking beyond the point of failure to (just) what is relevant in its system
The point being that we may be able to exert influence elsewhere in the system
(or its context, the larger system of systems) to change the outcome, relieve
the point of failure, etc.
Emergence produces goodness and unintended consequences that, if they have
harmful effects, we tend to call failures. Emergence. The stuff of systems, and
relationships between parts and each other, and systems and their context.
Ah, I love what happens when minds interact, even when asynchronously and
unknowingly/without intent. New connections. Emergent insight. Wahoo! Or was
SYSTEMANTICS reminds me, my first venturing into cartoon land was back when
we were creating one of the early instantiations of the Software Architecture Workshop, when I did a series
of RUF ANTICS cartoons. Ruf being the name I call myself but also the cartoons
were rough sketchy things, and the little protagonist in the cartoons was "ant"
like... (Which reminds me... back in my university dorm days the theme for the
yearbook for my dorm in 2nd year was Ant cartoons. Mine was a sign on the door
saying "vacant." You see, I was a residential math tutor, and it was a
high honor awarded based on grades but to stay in the position one had to
complete a minimum number of tutoring hours each semester. So I had a sign on my
dorm room door pointing my mentees to my boyfriend's apartment where I spent
most of my time.) As for the RUF Antics, unfortunately it hadn't occurred
to me that it would be ok to use hand-drawn sketches (given my limited skills),
so I used clip art and pixel by pixel drawing which was clunky in execution and
effect. Oh well, the ideas expressed were generally durable, even if the images
didn't stand the test of time. This, then, from around 1996 or 1997:
The first was based on the failure mode where the architecture document doesn't
meet the needs of its audience, resulting in the "architecture brick" being used
to raise the monitor to the height demanded by the ergonomics review. The second
was inspired by an awful event in my childhood. Awful? Well, you see, my Dad had
LPs from his bachelor days but no record player and we could not afford one so
the LPs were stored. One day he came home from work to find us children using
his beloved Bach as flying saucers... They made awesome flying saucers, and we
little knew what a horror we were committing. Well, it made an impression, and
the residue showed up in the second image in the strip.
"So we have a pool or a farm of machines
that are dedicated to a specific use case; like search will have its own farm of
machines, and we can tune those much differently because the footprint and the
replay of those are much different than viewing an item, which is essentially a
read-only use case, versus selling an item, which is read-mostly type of use
case. [snip] Horizontal database partitioning is something that we have adopted
in the last probably four or five years to really get the availability, and also
scalability, that we need." -- Nuggets of Wisdom from eBay's architecture, 2004
Donald Ferguson's "Transformational
Moment" post is a great window on a leader leading. His 'What Do You Know About Agile Development?" post is
worth the read
too. Through the series of posts, we see Don reshaping our view of CA, and
shaping CA as a player where IBM's "Smarter Planet" initiative has dominated
Of course, I'm still ticked off that "Darth Don" took his blog off the i-way.
Oh well, we all have our reasons. But I miss his humor!
There is always so much we don't say -- even when I generally err on the side
of saying/writing too much! We can feel, in the silence, that what we do and are
is disregarded or not valued. Well, again, I do miss his humor! But I appreciate
the need for formality of expression, I really do. Like, one probably doesn't
want to say too much about jabberwockys as CTO... but the upside of the circle of restraint is we gain
a leader who can, you know, save us from that manxome foe.
Hmm yes, busting stereotypes. If you can tolerate the f-words (Warmning: it's NSFW) and haven't seen the Lego Darth Vader canteen sequence and the original Eddie Izzard piece,
then, well I'm not the last person on the planet to get clued in to it, after
all. It comes by way of Dana, who is much closer to a front row seat on this
aspect of life than I. I'm really glad to have him as my primary scout though.
He knows stuff I wouldn't think to wonder about! ;-)
I remember a comment on a Rives video along the lines of "I'd like to just
curl up in his head and listen to his thoughts." In my case that'd be an awfully
bad idea, as even the small encounter you've had with my journal decidedly
signifies. The organizing and filtering that formal writing does is
important. So, I must, must get Part II of The Art of Change completed so that I can get the Visual Architecting book done so I can
turn my attention to... a few other projects that beckon me. Why must I get
these things done first? Because my spirit protests the significance of what I
do here (in this field) even if (ok, ok, even though) no-one else sees it! I
know, it's absurd! But nothing would get done if we didn't believe in the
potential of what we do, for it may be all we have to surmount the face of
Massive indifference! Goodness, I do protest massive indifference! Passing
through this life being passive and unresponsive to what others create in
themselves and in the world. It isn't just dull... it is self-centered and so
Ah yes, Thanksgiving week. A time to celebrate what we are thankful for. We
can structure that using antithesis:
Celebrate .. Regret
Now .. Then
And we can play that forward and back.
If we project ourselves to "then" and consider what we regret (in the present
tense of our projected future self), we're playing the Bezos "regret
minimization" game. Yes, yes, there's the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not
Taken. When we get to "then," it is just as well to celebrate the road we
did take! But from "now," it is good to do the big things we would regret not
having done when we get to "then." Remembering that those "big" things may take surprising
form if we orient ourselves only to "doing."
With a keener sense of our intent, we can celebrate the possibility that "now" holds, for
it holds all the
promise of (what we'll celebrate) then! Tomorrow is built on today -- on "the
shoulders and ashes" of today (Grady
entry January 27, 2004). And sad ashes they will be, if we don't
assess what we value, and celebrate and nurture what we desire in ourselves and
our relationships. So, it is good to take the time to celebrate those we cherish
-- even simply to
celebrate internally, for what we do internally will show up in our attitude
As for me, I celebrate those who form the loving crucible of my being and
becoming. When it comes to regret-minimizing intent, I need to get that Visual Architecting book to print. So I can get to the projects that stand
in the wings of that one.
Yes, I scold myself. This moment holds so much possibility, and I have to get
on with it, challenge again, and again, that massive wall of indifference!
Because I might eventually reach someone who will be touched by what I do, and
in some key way, enabled. I mean, it is possible, right? Well, at least
So. No traveling this week thanks to Thanksgiving. Your role is to demand the
completed draft of Part II. Eh, on second thoughts, that won't work. We have to be our creative spirit's own best keeper,
because others are, well, preoccupied! What stands between me and getting it
completed is not your sense of the worth of what I do, but mine. Of course,
there is a relationship, for I'd be more confident of its worth if someone said
something unsolicited and nice about it. You might see that as a special case of
deadly embrace. :-)
Which brings me back to celebrating the possibility that today holds.
Yes, it holds impossibility too. But we need to wrest the jewel of possibility
from the guardian dragons of impossibility. And I think that jewel lies in the
encounter of minds, within and between minds. In the context of what is
impossible, there is still that marveling and meeting and enriching in the
collaborative crucible of minds where new compound jewels are created... Thought
jewels that enable and shape action. Ah yes, the flowery terms of fantasy fiction. Well, we did
just see Harry Potter...
You want that in plain English? If you haven't read Fractal and Emergent,
read it, and celebrate it. No, that's not the point. If you have read Fractal and Emergent,
celebrate it. No, that's not the point either. I frame things in terms of my
experience. Play the "celebrate and regret game" from your frame of
reference. You will collaborate differently, more powerfully, if you do. For big
things -- bigger things -- are done with and through people. The intentionality
of thinking about the possibility that excites us, and the celebration (explicit
appreciation but also celebrating internally, for what we do internally will
show up in our attitude and actions) of others who will help us make it so, are
crucial to getting big things done with and through people. Ourselves. And
That "Diagrams that
Changed the World" article is, of course, right up the alley of my "To Lead
is to See, to Frame, to Draw" Report (Part II of The Art of Change)... which
you're so devastatingly not interested in. Alas. ;-) Oh, don't worry...
"The most glorious
moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those
days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life"
-- Gustave Flaubert
Or a challenge to indifference. I do so rail at indifference!
Flaubert also said:
"I have come to have the firm conviction
that vanity is the basis of everything" -- Gustave Flaubert
And I have to agree that vanity, or self-worth and self-assurance, is
important. To believe that we are capable of something new and astonishing,
worthwhile, in the world, is to be incredibly vain! But that vanity is bad only
if it curses what we do. If it causes us to diminish others, and in so doing,
ourselves. Self-centered is self-limiting.
Reading grants a view into the marvelous mind of wondrous other -- collaborating with other minds through the medium of
reading (others' writing and diagrams) is more controlled and we can slow down
and speed up, muse or gloss over, at will. Still, dynamic conversations can
create a collaborative crucible of minds in which new connections can surface
from surprises that adjust the course of the interaction. What we give up in
efficiency and self-reliance, we gain in the formation of new thought compounds
fired in a more organic crucible. Of course, our time is so quickly spent, we
have to be selective in choosing which minds we enter and entertain in the
crucibles we form.
Our minds are encapsulated. Perhaps that will become less so, as HCI (and
advances... Still, the spoken word and writing, art and music and construction
(the things we build in the world) give (partial) expression, or access, to our
thoughts. And so we get a glimpse of that most amazing creation of all, the
minds of other. Through the expression of thoughts, we create and build
knowledge. Thoughts flow between us, and make us not so insular as we might
suppose. As we entertain and meld other's thoughts with our own, allowing them
to enter us, they become part of what makes us who we are. Socrates. Vitruvius. Da Vinci. A corridor of minds that lead to the unique set of knowledge and
connections that make our own internal mental maps and inner constructions,
uniquely orienting us to the world. So the river flows between and through, not
simply by. We interact with history, community, destiny, astonishing others, and
each with us.
And we, full of so essential vanity, have to realize that we, like other
systems, are emergent.
We are so full of complex and contradictory impulses! So much to express, but
so little sought that I flee the diminution cast by disregard.
In 2001, Dana
Bredemeyer and Bill Branson (who was at Frank Russell Company at the time), did a tutorial at an EA
Conference called "How to Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way." Following well
has long factored for us, because it is so important in architecting. The
fractal and emergent nature of strategy -- business and technical strategy --
means that architects are leading in some areas, and following in others. As
important as it is to lead, it is important to follow well -- leading by example
by following well, being fully engaged. It is important to the achievement of
broad-scoped, system objectives. And if I, as a leader at a different scope,
perpetually resist, or am slow to follow, I perpetuate and further imbed in the
culture, through my own practice, the behavior of non-following. Yes, it is
important to lead out of trouble, and that can -- often does -- mean rocking the
boat. And questioning the status quo. But this does not mean persistently,
erosively, undermining other leaders, especially those who set system context
for me. Unless the status quo is all round just toxic, in which case I have to
decide whether I want to lead a revolution. Still, that is a quite different
thing than taking a stance of skepticism and a contrarian orientation, or simply
a passive non-doing, non-following. What is needed from a leader in a
system-of-systems context, is that "playing well with others", good following and good
leading. Leading by example, leading by shaping the value set, leading by
helping to conceive a destiny worth pursuing, leading by setting context so that
followers are empowered to contribute creatively.
And I think sketching is important to "drawing
people in," so we can do more enabling and leading with design.
As we embrace intentional design again, recovering from the polar swing away
from BFUD and gaining an equilibrium, I believe we will come to understand the
value of sketches and specifications. Design goes through maturation
through the design process (including the concurrent design work done in
construction). And periods of foment preceding a new period of maturation during
each substantive release cycle. And as dominant designs gain prominence and are
overthrown by the next wave of genre-setting innovation in technology and design
know-how, our field will continually be thrown back into the "messy" state of
figuring it all out. Pulsing and pendulum swinging our over-correcting-way as we
struggle to find a new equilibrium.
Context factors, and smaller organic projects can get away with much less
formality in the design capture and less ceremony in the development process.
But the people thinking, learning and working in such contexts should not think
their experience speaks for all contexts! Yes, we want to fake small when we do
big projects as much as possible. For small teams are satisfying to work on, and
draw on each person on the team in organic, creative, self-organizing ways that
enhance meaning and satisfaction. To get there in complex organizational
settings necessitated by complex systems, though, we have to do more design,
because we have to provide more context and apply what has been learned, and
what we can reason about through analysis and analogy, to start with sufficient
design control to find a solution that resolves conflicting desires and forces
sufficiently that we can create a system that will delight, where needed, and
satisfice where that is good enough.
"In the digital universe, there are two
kinds of bits: bits that represent structure (differences in space) and bits
that represent sequence (differences in time). Digital computers — as formalized
by Alan Turing, and delivered by John von Neumann — are devices that translate
between these two species of bits according to definite rules."
The article is a wonderful (and concise) tour through the shaping events and
defining issues of computing history. Among his vivid observations:
"The problem has shifted from how to
achieve reliable results using sloppy hardware, to how to achieve reliable
results using sloppy code."
He ends with a quote from science fiction writer, Simon Ings:
"When our machines overtook us, too complex
and efficient for us to control, they did it so fast and so smoothly and so
usefully, only a fool or a prophet would have dared complain."
... Socrates. Vitruvius. Da Vinci. ..., Shakespeare, von Neuman, Feynman, ...
Rechtin, ... Heaney... I shudder to attempt even another name on the list of
influences on our thinking, for it is
endless... Indeed, I can't find a beginning nor a middle nor an end to it, and
your name should be prominent on it! Such a network of minds that leads to the unique set of knowledge and
connections that make our own internal mental maps and inner constructions,
uniquely orienting us to the world! So the river of humanity, of what it is to
be human, flows between and through us, not
simply by. We interact with history, community, destiny, and each with us. But
our friends are prominent in that parade of minds that influence and make us,
for they share with us what their own bliss-following questing-growing has
produced in them, and their sparkle brightness casts light for us in which we
see and become more our best selves. At times like these, I remember Yeats striking
"Think where mans glory most
begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such
Ok, ok, its Thanksgiving. You'll grant me a little sentimentality, if you
please. Though... I need to get back
to my family, who most make and unmake me -- the latter being as important to me
as the making, for we need to be shaken out of ourselves to become ... bigger. Kind
of like the snake, a boomslang, that shed its skin on my
mother's avocado tree! Um, well, poor choice of image perhaps. Uh... I'm
thankful for your generous reading...
Oh yes, family. I am deeply thankful for my guys, for they cooked the feast.
Oh, I did my part -- I grated the parmesan cheese for the tomato-fennel soup
that Dana served with his homemade garlic-parmesan breadsticks. As for
desert, how does persimmon pudding from the French Laundry Cookbook sound? And
pecan pie? Yes, Dana is amazing! Ryan too -- he cooked the turkey. It's a thing
he's been doing for several years, ever since I'd sold Dana to a client in
Europe over Thanksgiving, not realizing how important this holiday is to me and
my American family.
Oh right. The Yeats quote. Because WB was a man we do incline our spirit to
the glory of, his words express humility. If I use them, they seem the contrary.
So let me explain. Take the words as from me. Just me. Then they work. Do you
see? Ok, take these words:
borrowed my life from the works of your life."
Who I am and what I am capable of has something to do with where I choose to
look and what I see there, where I have come from, and where I explore -- the
works of your life, the lessons you share with me, where you seek and what you
find and give me insight into. All that I have learned is borrowed, built upon.
Grady Booch memorably wrote:
"I would contend that there are few truly
novel software architectures. Rather, as with every engineering discipline, new
systems or modified ones are [built] upon the shoulders and ashes of previous
-- Grady Booch, blog entry January 27, 2004
That "shoulders and ashes" so struck me.
Those "borrowed my life" words are Woody Guthrie's. I couldn't say that right
when I used them, for it had the same problem as using Yeats words. If I have
any glory (and I think every person does, for in encountering other minds I find
them to be as
thought-arresting lovely as, say, a Grand Canyon... um, analogies are so
powerful when the mind gives them fair play... and limited when the mind freezes
in is-is not polarities... so just run with it, ok?), it is because I have
encountered the likes of Yeats and Guthrie and Booch and you in what their, and
other, and your minds have brought forth in the world.
Thought-arresting? Just think -- capable of hushing all the voices in my
head; now that's some expression of lovely! Of course that moment of hush
backs up a multitude of thoughts that then spill together.
You're obliged to do it, and to do it today! Your job depends upon it!
Seriously! Today is being seen as an economic weathervane day. So, shop
green, shop local, shop to create, shop to show your loved ones you've noticed
that special something that will make them feel significant, shop for your brain
so that you can turn the world around, but shop.
I'm not very good at imperatives!
Even when your job depends upon it!
11/24/10 Green School Dream
On TED. It's inspiring! Think models as not just sketches but scale models.
And the beauty in forms Nature inspires.
Daniel pointed to Mircea Eliade's Coincidentia oppositorum and to Nicolaus Cusanus.
Dana, seeing the Mircea Eliade wikipedia page open on my screen, said "Oh,
Eliade -- Myth of the Eternal Return! We have that in the attic" (where
our arts and humanities library is housed in a space full of angles and light).
Well, even if you aren't interested in the spiritual
questing-integrating-resolving of Eliade and Cusanus, you will surely be
interested in the important discoveries and threads of science that trace to
Looking back ☼we
(may) see them. Looking forward, we can't foresee how all the new
connections, happening faster and faster as specialty disciplines push ever
deeper advancing upon connections within a lineage of knowledge, and integrators
look across disciplines and make still further new connections, will play out. But we also try
to influence this unfolding by imagineering what we'd like to build in the
world. And what we build may be physical stuff, or knowledge, or both, since
creating new stuff advances knowledge in important through the head-and-hands
kinds of ways. Still, there are builders of knowledge and insight, and builders
of stuff, and these influence each other, and it would be nice if each gave
credence to the other!
Design is a combination of art and aesthetic, the application of knowledge
and practice, and experiment. Art? We're applying our values and aesthetic even
when this is not foremost on our mind, but also we gain confidence in the
goodness of our solution when it is beautiful for this matches our experience
with great design whether in Nature or by man:
"When I'm working on a problem, I never
think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have
finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -- R.
a teacher of design may proceed somewhat like a teacher of art where perhaps art
is related to the
creation/expression of some essential meaning, truth or beauty and design shades
into meaningful purpose and aesthetic appeal. And somewhat like a teacher of system
engineering dealing with how to build something with fit to intent and purpose and
structural integrity. Helping to orient towards building systems with the
qualities of firmitas, utilitas, and venustas (Vitruvius).
Our field has a growing body of knowledge -- largely expressed in design
patterns -- to leverage. But the system thinking we have to do as an
architect-designer is quite different from the local design and implementation
work we (necessarily) launch our software careers doing. Of course, all along we
are working on systems, and within systems contexts, so over time we are
learning about systems design even when we don't have responsibility for system
design. Still, as we transition to the role of architect, to responsibility for
the system design, we need to shift to a mindset for dealing with complex
systems -- which has importantly different challenges than designing and
implementing at more well-defined, local scopes.
It would be neat if the history makers in software told their story, in their
own voice, while they are in the hurtling thrust of their biggest accomplishments
rather than after they retire. Although, any time is better than not preserving
their stories! At least
we have Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos doing commencement speeches and using that to
prompt their reflecting on the lessons they have wrest from the rushing course
I'm collecting the data for a map of my journal, with a view to experimenting
with opening the "public" view of my journal back up. I still have my
misgivings, but there's work there that, if valued, I'd like to make
If it seems like it will be useful, I'll move the data into a
collapsible/expandable mindmap (that will considerably simplify the current
view) and/or graphical topologies. In the meantime, I'm collecting and
classifying in a simple set of bulleted lists (tree structure) because that is
easier for me in the hunt and peck of data gathering. I've only
covered January to May, 2010, and it's taken a few hours (re-reading the posts
as I go).... so more to go, if I decide to do it...
Pulled together in this way, it is easy to ask if the disjoint posts together
add to anything useful. Some are teensy bites, and others are more substantive.
Well, until/unless I decide to dismantle the connections again, you can use
the beginnings of this Journal Map to access past posts.
Please bear in mind that
it is a journal in which entries merely trace a snippet of thinking
(grabbing hold of the tail of an idea as it flits by, and writing it down
before it gets away)
only 5 months of entries have been indexed in the current map -- out of
close to 5 years worth!
the format will change, to provide more of a pan and zoom kind of
The question I have is whether a topic map is useful and worth pursuing
I can see why no-one was intrepid enough to get any residue of Getting Past
‘But’ on them by recommending it... I mean, imagine using a
children's story to make points about innovation, architecture and agility? Even
if, when one actually reads it, the story is to innovation what Gulliver's
Travels was to social change. Hmmm... Do you think it is worth asking why
no-one has said "it is a delight to read, and important as we reconcile agile and
But there is none of that kind of convention-challenging daring in the Fractal and Emergent paper, so what's the hold-back? Is it not it's own kind of important, in that it
addresses the relationship between strategy and architecture? Are there not some
of the most powerful and useful models and images you've seen, taking
business-technology as a system, rather than a broken divide? What do I mean?
Let's start with Rechtin's observation "If the politics don't fly, the system
never will." Ok, with that as context, let's revisit the value of the models.
So, how about the product/market lifecycle model that helps you assess the kind
of agility you need to be targeting? How about the strategy model, and the model
of the relationship between strategy and architecture? How about the extension
of "technical debt" more broadly to opportunity debt, helping you to make the
case that business agility, not just development agility, is at stake when we
don't empower architects at various levels?
I'm not saying it is perfect. I am saying it is probably worth some
conversation. If you want management to better support what you see the need to
do, you need to help management see how to do that. Initiate conversations. And
offer "representational transformations" that put information in different forms
and formats to upset static mental models, stimulating "aha's" that shift the
cognitive landscape so that change is possible. Or more simply put, the paper
invites seeing the relationship between business and architecture with a fresh
sense of opportunity.
These conversations are important if we want to make organizations more
hospitable to architecture. If you would like things to be different, you can
help me make them different. Well, if what I see and draw in words is compelling
And at a retail price of $150 per report, they don't seem nearly so long now
The bright side.
Oh well, since no-one else is so kind as to mention it, I put a synopsis of Fractal and Emergent on my (neglected) blog. :-)
I need to breathe some life into that blog space, and I want to add an
archman blog so I have another venue for community interaction around a
combination of archman sketches with more "gelled" posts (more, that is, that my
But before I leave the topic of sadly neglected pieces of work, that PICTURE IT presentation is, you know,
epic. And it's not even that long. It just seems like it. No, no. It's not all
that bad ... really. Perhaps.
Yes, yes, you're right. You're absolutely right. I should spend my
discretionary cycles writing ... myself into a career into a different field.
This one ☼don't need no♫ gentle action! ;-)
Strong positions are flamboyant, and while they should be treated as
provocative -- meaning engage brain here -- they appeal to our "distort,
delete and generalize" minds... So, yeah, I found the talk entertaining and thought provoking. ;-)
"Deathstar" projects are real. Like this one (Ford and Oracle). And they get
the press. Successful regeneration projects may have a bumpy path to ultimate
success, but so do greenfields projects!
Going through more journal entries expanding the map of my journal,
I'm thinking "wow, there's some good stuff in there."
Ok, ok, strong positions are flamboyant, and while they should be treated as
provocative -- meaning tread warily here -- they appeal to our
"distort, delete and generalize" minds... which you generalize to applying to my
saying "some good stuff in there" and now you're bent on finding me wrong,
aren't you? Well, a cartoon about architecture comes to mind. It goes like this:
The conceptual architecture diagram is posted on a door, and everyone (labeled
developer, manager, ops, QA, etc.) is throwing darts at it. The caption says:
"At least they're looking at it."
We architects just look on the bright side, don't we?
Well, skeptics think it can't be done. Shouldn't be done. Won't be done.
That's no way to lead!
So I'm going to assume you'll find some good stuff in there if I just give
you a map. Back to it then. :-)
I indexed June 2009 and half of July 2009... It's fun rereading the
posts! Well, I had fun! Why mid 2009? Goodness, I don't tell you everything!
It just seems like it. ;-)
[If you don't get the delicious ironic humor in that map link, you're fired! ;-)]
I focus on what it takes to build more sustainable systems, in every
sense of the word from technically to economically and environmentally to
morally and personally, and this is reflected in the avenues explored in my
journal. Being that it is a journal, navigation has been simply via the
timeline, which allowed visitors to "chunk" attention by recency. To make the
body of work accessible, I'm working on a topic map allowing access to journal entries by topic. This will allow those who prefer,
to chunk attention by topic of interest.
At the top level, the organization of topics maps to the architects architecting architecture for what purpose and in what context (organizational and lifecycle) -- or (shifting the order) what, how, who, why, where, when -- framework that has organized the
Bredemeyer Resources for Architects website since its inception in 1999.
The next level of structure is partially intentional (for example, in the architecting/how section, a set of clusters follow
the Visual Architecting Process or VAP) and partially emergent (a clustering of
topics I was drawn to investigate either following my own curiosity or
stimulated by an interaction with an architect or project).
One thing that occurs is that the topic map itself is a valuable organization
of concepts in
the architects architecting architecture space. As I go through the weeks and
months and years, that index grows. Of course, in classifying, I have focused on the
pith of an entry, but most any entry could be indexed multiple ways which would
give rise to an even richer concept map of the space.
Ok, so this is a work-in-progress, but I think a lovely picture is emerging from
all the places I've investigated and thought to jot notes about in my journal.
The next thing that occurs is: through the entries, it builds a
rich picture of what it means to be a great
architect, and what a great architect grapples with and gains cognitive traction
on, enabling wondrous-complex, useful and beautiful things to be built in the
world to extend our human and organizational capabilities and enhance our
Ok, so if that inspires and intrigues you to use the map to
begin to assess the index and my
journal for yourself, please bear in mind that
it is a journal in which entries trace a snippet of thinking
(grabbing hold of the tail of an idea as it flits by, and writing it down
before it gets away)
only 7 or so months of entries have been indexed in the current map -- out of
close to 5 years worth!
the format will change, to provide more of a visual map with a pan and zoom kind of
interface (at a minimum, using a mindmap with collapse and expand features)
But if you prefer the chronological view and missed it in October, here it is (unless/until my good sense returns). And if October doesn't convince you my
thought trace is worth some cycles, um, then my journal is not your cup of tea.
But, but... it was a good month, don't you
think? Dana's interpretation of The Wreck of Hope is worth "the price of
entry" right there. The price of entry? Well, in this case, the cost of your
I hope that you recognize that what I do is that "add complexity to find the
utter drop-dead beautiful simplicity" (that is hidden when we countenance only
moderate complexity, deleting and distorting and generalizing without finding
the essential simplicity)... Or at least, that is what I try to do, and even
sometimes achieve. Pan out just enough to find the "fierce simplicity" in the
structure and relationships of the space. I do realize that once that simplicity
is found, it looks obvious and so can be trivialized by those who only saw the
complexified view before...
Which is to say, go easy on me when I seem to be making more of something
than it is worth. ;-)
We dress and redress our presentations to the world.
Justify. Frame. Reframe. Persuade. Amend. Make up for. Make amends to. We want, after all, to seem, if only for the barest
moment in the scope of time, to warrant the blessing of our tenure on this
Now, I want to say, for all who dismiss and diss my building with models and
words: do you think the scaffolding important to the building? You create the
building and your work is more evident than mine. But the scaffolding that
enables you to reach higher is important too. I create process. Process is
scaffolding. It is as necessary to the work as the heads and hands that design
and build the system.
See. We dress and redress our presentations to the world. We justify. Frame.
Reframe. Hoping to persuade.
You're not buying it are you?
One of the ways I selflessly serve our world is by reminding us all of our
humanity. Humanity is frail and it yearns as much as it strives. Those things go
We dress and redress our presentations to the world. We justify. Frame.
Reframe. To persuade. To lead.
Ok, you got it already. Where does that leave us? You think I'm an idiot who
can't even decide what to wear. I think I'm a soulful intellig...
... diversity is
queen. And out of their marriage, innovation is born -- 3/5/10
So, when we meet on common ground, let that build credibility for me in your
eyes. And when we differ, give thanks for our differences, for it is out of
differences in perspective and style that we break cognitive and technological
barriers and make something new possible in the world.
It is popular to issue the injunctive "never redesign!" So, would all those who have done that successfully
please step forward because the failures are getting all the attention! If we
had to give all the failed start-up or greenfields projects the same level of
attention and "tarred with a universal brush" dismissal, we'd never start
anything new either!
Perhaps our criteria should be reviewed... Successfully? If it didn't get cancelled before it shows
value, it is successful! (With a few extra considerations and caveats, but
that's a good enough characterization -- if I'm to be flamboyant. ;-) You know,
our criteria are so poor we even have a Law:
Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account
How do we get to successful? We don't create the same thing just with more
tech-sexy complexity behind the scenes. Who would do that? Surely not you? But,
rewrites are risky. No doubt about it. Just think for a moment. What
project is management going to be most antsy about? The one that duplicates the
one that's already delivering value? That sure looks like a place to cut, when
cuts are demanded. So organizational will is a determining factor. But so is
design and management of expectations. Deliver incrementally, but deliver to
demonstrate the value of the next generation platform for
incremental evolution! If you can obsolete your current product set, so can --
so will -- competitors. That is where you have to focus redesign!
I suppose if you haven't been reading along in October/November, you have no
idea what I mean except that boxes can mean stereotypes we need to get out of,
or boxes with lines on those infamous block diagrams.. Ah, but there's so much
scope there, and then there's all the other boxes besides. Wouldn't you want to
do something about boxes? with me--ok, ok, with Dana?
Yeah, yeah, everyone wants to do something with Dana. Even I. Especially I! .
Ok, so this is what we submitted:
Something About Boxes
by Ruth Malan and Dana Bredemeyer (main presenter)
In this tutorial we will do something about boxes. Play with them. Use them.
Elucidate and elide them. Get out of them. Imagine stuff into them. This is a
tutorial that does something. It does something about that conceptual
architecture diagram, that box and line drawing, that sketchy simple figure that
conveys through abstraction, metaphor, visual and textual cues to unfolding
narrative, the whole system. Conveys, even, the behavior of the system. Conveys
-- illustrates, describes, moves from my mind to yours. Conveys -- conducts, is
the conduit for, enables. Conveys -- serves. Serves the development team with
models that illustrate. Serves users with behaviors or functions. Serves the
So we'll deal with sketchy, ephemeral, shape-shifting boxes. And boxes that
convey some quite sophisticated insight, hard-wrung from experience and close
observation and attention. Boxes that morph. Boxes that become. Boxes that are
compressions, full of meaning and import and -- code. Boxes and lines that draw
on us -- our experience, our intentions, our designs. Boxes -- and lines -- that
will enable and constrain us. Boxes and lines that may begin as just a crude
sketch, where you need me to explain how it is more than just boxes and lines,
to tell you in so many words their import. And boxes that leverage metaphor,
analogy, condensation of meaning into some simple representative abstraction,
that actively engage the viewer in a dialog with the meaning of the thing,
enabling us to distill complexity into elegant simplicity.
You could say that this is a tutorial that explores the art at the technical
heart of architecting, using visual thinking and design, analogy, intuition and
experience honed in patterns and heuristics to achieve "the creation of
resilient abstractions, a good separation of concerns, a balanced distribution
of responsibilities, and simplicity" (Grady Booch).
Christopher Alexander said of patterns, "if you can't draw a picture of it, it
isn't a pattern." At what point will we say "if you can't draw it, it isn't
architecture"? Architecture is (at least) the structure of the system designed
to deliver, through collaboration and interaction among the constituent
elements, the desired capabilities of the system. And we ought to (be able to)
draw that! But drawing -- designing those elements at varying degrees of
elaboration and abstraction, taking different views on the complex of structures
to design and elucidate how various capabilities are to be built or evolved --
is a matter of boxes. Abstractions that sketch intent that morph into
compressions of designs actualized in implementations.
These diagrams are a medium for and the visual expression of design thinking. Of
course we don't mean it is only or all about visual models. Technology choices
may show up on models, and certainly the reasoning behind the choices needs to
be expressed in words so that our thinking, deliberating on stakeholder goals
and concerns, connecting to business drivers and assertions we make given a
diligent, honest look at technology capabilities and directions, is communicated
and preserved. And, frankly, thought about more rigorously, because writing, as
with visual representation (whether in "art" -- subjective, or in a "model" --
"objective"), makes us think more thoroughly, investigate more angles, etc.
Named boxes and lines. And the words that elaborate the boxes and lines just
enough to convey the intent, in some cases, or considerably more to specify, in
others. Words. Spoken words because they are interactive and participative and
so vivid and engaging and can be dynamically redirected to explore or address a
concern or point of interest. And written words because they endure, and are
thought-out and can be rich and exciting too especially when they invite an
asynchronous dialog or inquisitive questing/questioning/responding in the mind
of the reader.
But this is not just just about boxes and lines. It is about the surprises boxes
can hold. And the surprises in something.
Analogy. Visual and verbal. Visualizations. Stories. Play.
What it takes to do something about boxes!
--- End ---
If you aren't totally blown away by that and impatient to attend, I'm not
talking to you any more!
I know, it is really edgy but the idea is that we don't want to give up our
time, and travel at our cost, to do a tutorial that is stale and boring with an
audience that wants something we're not going to give them. On the other hand,
the people that would want to do this, would be a real asset to the conference
and a real joy to have in other tutorials not just ours. So all round, I think
that if it passes the acceptance bar then it will be good for the conference and
fun and good for those of us who throw ourselves into making it great.
Ruth Malan has played a pioneering role in the software architecture field, helping to define architectures and the process by which they are created and evolved, and helping to shape the role of the software, systems and enterprise architect. She and Dana Bredemeyer created the Visual Architecting Process which emphasizes: architecting for agility, integrity and sustainability. Creating architectures that are good, right and successful, where good: technically sound; right: meets stakeholders goals and fits context and purpose; and successful: actually delivers strategic outcomes. Translating business strategy into technical strategy and leading the implementation of that strategy. Applying guiding principles like: the extraordinary moment principle; the minimalist architecture principle; and the connect the dots principle. Being agile. Creating options.
Feedback: I welcome input, discussion and feedback on any of the topics in this Trace in The Sand Journal, my blog, and the Resources for Architects website, or, for that matter, anything relevant
to architects, architecting and architecture! I can be reached at
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