A Trace in the Sand
by Ruth Malan
What's a Trace?
My Trace is a playground for developing ideas, for exploring architecture and the role of architects. It is a journal of discovery, and traces my active reflection. I've been journaling "out loud" here for over eight years. To get a sense of the span, calibre and contribution of this body of work, there's a selection of traces linked here. When reading a trace in isolation, it may feel like you've been dropped into a thought fray unprepared for the action that is already in progress. It's okay. You're smart, and my Trace assumes that. You'll get your bearing quickly. Just give it a chance.
It is a journal. That is, it is an informal trace of wandering, exploration, discovery. The insights are there in their sparkling bucketfulls, but there are fewer clear onramps and offramps to and from them. ;-)
Sure. It may be difficult, textured, relying on emergence and recursive structures, poly-thematic, playing with delicate and intricate harmony sometimes, discordia others... So?
Shouldn't writing for smart people expect us to rise to the occassion of it? And this is an occassion! It is the writing of now, as it unfolds. It can feel unsteady, foggy. But in the clearings, how gorgeous it is! No?
No? Oh. Well. I try.
Sure. It responds to the discourse of our field, but also leads and shapes key conversations (in my own head, anyway; smiles). It connects, and weaves. It leads, inspires and enables. Not with a heavy handed didactic approach, but with more the approach of placing learning objects in a crucible of encounter, of thought and the mulching, compost adding/turning, seeding, watering, weeding, tending and attending, growing of wisdom. ;-)
That's not how you see it? Well. Hmpf. You can make it great, by expecting it to be! And encountering it so. It is not just what is in a work that makes it great, but what is brought to it, how it is interacted with, allowed to become.
Well. Last month I took on and totally like one that TDD thing. Yes. I one it. Did you think I was in the ring there? LOL.
I also pulled all the threads of the Conway's Law discussion together, showed how I, you know, have made contributions to this field.
We are rational creatures. It just doesn't mean what we thought it meant. ;-)
Whaaaat does it mean, Ruth? We rationalize (albeit irrationally). We reason (unreasonably). It's a cool sort of deal we give ourselves. The appearance of rationality.
Oh yeah. Every paragraph. Gold. Gems. ... Crystals... Horrorscopes... ;-)
6/4/14: I'm going to try (again) to take a break from tracing out loud. If you want a sense of how bad(ass) this here Trace is, you could amuse yourself googling, for example,
I hope your June is lovely!
(And. Pfft. No doubt I'll be back here way too soon. Never failed to be the case yet, right?)
6/12/14: Decided to put the trace back here, to get your feedback on the Architecting Workshop outline for the Software Architect Conference in London in October.
If Twitter Had Asked Me
I'd have asked for a faster horse, ... uh no... I'd have asked for less flaky DMs. But there is something nice about separating tweets from tweets+replies... It allows control over a "story", like this (read bottom up):
Now if I could just insert pointers as relevant... I'd have Storify?? ;-) Along the lines of "We need to (be able to) Talk", there's (sigh) this:
For perspective, maybe we would just like to note:
(Do I like the new format? I do not like it, Sam I am.)
6/12/14: Looks like I backslid into commentary huh? Shoot. ;-)
But content too. Some people shape their image. Some people shape content. I like to focus on the latter. Unfortunately it doesn't get me very far with the former, despite our mythology...
6/5/14: Oh dear:
I think that one is going to require commentary too. ;-)
Well... Duh... Huh?
Put this in your "naming is the hard problem in software development" stew:
Also on perception:
Interesting to put those alongside Lamarckism? How much do we build into the environment, the built world, but also culture (not just written and other forms of conveying knowledge)... And how much is internalized and passed on as "soft inheritance" or in social norms and mores and more (smile)?
And anyway, why are such concepts, and others like stigmergy, so interesting to me? When I so much see the world through the lens of system and software design, especially architectural design (strategically and structurally significant)? Well, because the more the environment provides the cues, the less we have to rely on overt and attention consuming (and unreliable) communication. It is that left hand (shape culture) right hand (make decisions) way of working Dana Bredemeyer talks about. But it is also about shaping the built world, the world of artefacts -- the infrastructure, the testing systems, ..., conventions, .... even checklists -- to bring about what we want to have happen. And paying very close attention, because most likely we got it wrong and we have to adapt the shaping environment to get more what we (the development community, the business, customers and others in the value network) want and need.
6/17/14: As naming goes, this is fun:
[I should spell check more often? You're right, I should. But when one neologizes as glibly as I do, it's more of a schlepp. Sawry. ;-)]
Did you notice the name of Michael Feathers' company? "Research and Conveyance" -- isn't that genius?! And the twitter handle for his company? @r7krecon?!? Recon -- like reconnaissance but also Research and Conveyance. Couldn't you just smack him for thinking of it, it is that great?! :-) What? It works so perfectly, so many ways. Transformations of code/systems, people and organizations. And it's so much better than all the same-old: "coaching" and "consulting" and "training." When people say we do training, I wiggle and feel like I need to scratch something in irritation. I say we "inspire and enable." Or.. we provide a crucible for discovery, for drawing out and connecting -- distilling that dew of insight. The condensation on the glass of all the experience and knowledge we've poured into our magnificently capable, fallible-glorious minds. Isn't it amazing? We pour experience (ours, and others' through what we hear and see and read, building our capacity to imagine into and reason out) into our brains. And our hands/fingers (writing words and code, drawing sketches, building) and mouths become that glass upon which the dew forms, reflecting for others to see what is otherwise hidden within us. Sure, we can be aware of our thoughts and accomplish a fair amount in our heads, but it is in putting our thoughts out there, that we release them. So that we, and others, can work them, husband and grow them.
This motivates our approach (and underscores the insights and understanding that informed our approach) really well:
Here is the draft overview for a workshop I'm facilitating at the Software Architect Conference in London in October. Does this sound like something you'd want to attend:
Well, what do you think? It'll be a scurry getting sufficient of the views drafted in just a day session, and much will have to be tabled for "homework"/follow-up reading for those who really want to drill into our approach. But... Awesomesauce... or... try again Rufus?
6/16/14: Thanks to Richard West for helping me improve this. I need to work on the first set of bullets... I was trying to indicate key tensions under the "arc" of architecture... Anyway, Richard is right, it makes it dense... and um... strained. ;-) And there is a quick switch from playful to compact...
6/14/14: And. They need a photo. Sigh. This one work?
I'll have to see if they'll go for it. ;-) I mean, it is so much more about what I see than what I look like, right?
* Those "silver bullets" -- relationships of goodwill and commitment to objectivity -- need to be attributed to Dana Bredemeyer and they are a very significant insight.
6/22/14: Conference scoop of the millenium huh? ;-) First conference in Europe to reach out to me and pay travel (from the US). All this is thanks to the generosity of Robert Smallshire, who suggested Dana and me to the conference organizers. Are you following Robert? He does great work in architecture and design, agile and he's a Python guy so that says a lot right there. :-) It takes a generosity of spirit to suggest your "competitors" to conference organizers -- if you think in old styled dog-eat-dog-world terms. If you think in terms of "raising the tide" ecosystem expansion terms, you realize that all of us nurturing an appreciation for architecture and helping people get better at great system design, are building a growing base from which we all work. It is good for systems and their teams, but also good for all of us making a living working in this industry. And I think it is useful to think it is not about any one of us being totes uber-awesome -- mainly we consulting types are just the "bees" that spread the good ideas around (though we do have the experience and discernment to know which are the good, practical, valuable ones). Well, except me. Of course I'm totes uber-awesome and just you remember that. Just kidding. But I do have a unique perspective and that is what makes it exciting that a conference in Europe has made the effort to extend a welcome to me.
Happy Father's Day!
To Dana, the father of my children -- you are an awesome dad and generous partner in parenting and life. :-) You give us all such riches of being responded to, nurtured, invited to become.
From past Father's Days:
Happy Fathers' Day to everyone -- to fathers most especially! But also to all of us who get to spend this day appreciating the fathers in our life, thinking about what they mean and have meant to us.
From the Stream
Look, a keeper:
Remind Me Never
Well, thanks to the torture of having to provide a headshot for the conference speaker blurb, more photos of me exist in this moment today than cumulatively over prior history! :-)
As self portraits go, that's about as well as I could do.... Sigh. It's funny but, though that is a photo of me, it doesn't really look like me... They could just use a picture of someone else!
But, you can see why I retweeted:
That. Was painful.
Sigh. I know myself a lot better now. Not sure that's a good thing. ;-)
Well, at least I thought to wear the lovely glass flower Dana bought for me in Prague. That was comforting. And as bad as that ordeal was, it would only have been worse if someone else had the camera.
Now if they bounce that back to me as not good enough... I. Give. Up. Emotionally taxing that were; cruel camera!
You have to understand, I look like this:
Well, that's quite enough of that conference hoopla.
Remind me not to do that again.
You never did ask me for the story of that suitcase. Sigh.
6/19/14: Oh. Okay. This is more me:
Still 12. Yeah.
And this is still more me:
And this, because (my by-line is) what I see, defines me :
That was Dana Bredemeyer's (db) reaction when I sketched the noestimates "debate" for him, and I snatched it out of the conversational flow for its architectural significance. Yes, yes. He's amazing.
Ooooh, look what Richard West was able to do (with the same shot that's in my page footer)::
I like that off-center composition, don't you? For me, I mean. ;-)
Some Classics in Software Engineering
Compute is a Force Multiplier
So well put:
Add 3D printers and ... evolutionary creationism here we come!
Workshop Description: Take Two
Another go, to fit the format used for the other workshops at the Software Architect Conference in London in mid October:
6/16/14: Thanks again to Richard West for his encouragement and help! And for turning the photo in the footer below into the much more interesting photo above. I like the framing, because my workshops are very much like that -- about me not being the central figure, but rather creating space where we all contribute to building the experience together.
I also write at:
- Bredemeyer Resources for Architects