A Trace in the Sand
Online Architecture Journal
by Ruth Malan

I also write at:

- Resources for Architects

- Architecture Action Guide

- Trace In the Sand Blog

 

- Other Interests

- Introducing Archman

 

Trace in the Sand
Architecture Journal

- Journal Map

2011

- January

- February

- March

- April

- May

- June

- July

- August

- September

- October

- November

- Current

2010

- January

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- May

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- July

- August

- September

- October

- November

- December

2009

- January

- February
- March

- April

- May

- June

- July

- August

- September

- October

- November
- December

2008
- January
- February
- March
- April

- May
- June
- July
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August
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September
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November
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2007
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January

- February
- March
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- May
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- July
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- September
- October
- November

- December

2006
-
February
- March

- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September

- October
- November
- December
 

Topics

- Software Visualization

- Speeding Product Development

- An Inspiring Woman

- Refactoring Tools

- Online Collaboration Tools

- The Power of an Integrating Concept

- Playing with ScrapBlog

- Code Analysis Tools

- Archman's Guide to the Role of the Architect

- Technology Makes Wind

- Information Maps

- Sublime Moment

- Team Memory

- Visualization Poster

- When You Have a Hammer

- Visualization Research

- Something Like This

- Narcissism

- New Operating System

- Stumbling and Bumbling into Second Life

- Virtual Testing

- Enterprise Architecture Workshop

- Brazil

- Fowler and Zimmer

- Why there are still Leadership Courses

- Second Adolescence

- Call for Papers: State of EA

- Wordle to Improve

- Visual Language

- Call for Papers: BI

- Cliffhanger

- IDCC Line-up and Diversity Thoughts

- Tell and Sell, or Get Skin in the Game

- Benevolent Dictator: a time-phased approach

- Collaboration Involves Dialog

- Don't Believe!

- Disney's 3 Rooms

- A Metaphor for Software Development

- Hacker Camp

- Archman... inching along

- and... Visualization... inching along

- Preserving Software

- More Technology Waves

- Don't Believe Take 2

- Spelunking

- No Permalinks but...

- Code for Where to Go

- NPR is Hiring Architects

- Measuring Success

- Resign Patterns

- Timeboxed Prototyping

- Story to Inspire

- New Toy to Try

- Play Time

The Rockae Haunts Me

- On the Lighter Side

- Breaking Confining Conception

- When Agile Isn't

- Context Maps

- Scooping Up the Past

- Software Architecture Documentation

 

 

Blogroll

Chief Architects

- Charlie Alfred

- Rob Daigneau

- Donald Ferguson

- Thomas Lee

- Brad Meyer

Chief Scientists

- Grady Booch

- Martin Fowler

Enterprise Architects

- Todd Biske

- Adrian Campbell

- Leo de Sousa

- Paul Homan

- James Hooper

- Nick Malik

- Jim Parnitzke

- Serge Thorn

- Tim Westbrock

Architects and Architecture

- Simon Brown

- Udi Dahan

- Louis Dietvorst

- Kevin Francis

- Sam Gentile

- Adrian Grigoriu

- Simon Guest

- Todd Hoff

- Alan Inglis

- Steve Jones

- Sjaak Laan

- Dave Linthicum

- Anna Liu

- Ruth Malan

- Chirag Mehta

- Gabriel Morgan

- Robert Morschel

- Dan Pritchett

- Chris Potts

- Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz

- Shaji Sethu

- Leo Shuster

- Collin Smith

- Brian Sondergaard

- Michael Stahl

- Daniel Stroe

- Jack van Hoof

- Steve Vinoski

- Mike Walker

- Rodney Willis

- Brian Zimmer

Architect Professional Organizations

- CAEAP

- IASA

Agile and Lean

- Scott Ambler

- Elizabeth Keogh

Software Reuse

- Vijay Narayanan

Other Software Thought Leaders

- Jeff Atwood

- Scott Berkun

- Alistair Cockburn

- CapGeminini's CTOblog

- Joel Spolosky

CTOs and CIOs

- Rebecca Parsons

- Werner Vogels (Amazon)

CEOs (Tech)

- Jonathan Schwartz (Sun)

CEOs (Web 2.0)

- Don MacAskill (SmugMug)

Innovate/Tech Watch

- Barry Briggs

- BoingBoing

- Gizmodo

- Dion Hinchcliffe

- Oren Hurvitz

- Diego Rodriguez
- smoothspan

- The Tech Chronicles

- Wired's monkey_bites

 

Social Networking/Web 2.0+ Watch

- bokardo.com

 

Leadership Skills

- Presentation Zen

 

Strategy, BI and Competitive Intelligence

- Freakonomics blog

- Tom Hawes

- Malcom Ryder

 

Um... and these
- Nick Carr

- Tom Peters

 

Green Thinking

- Sylvia Earle, TED

- CNN Money Business of Green videos

- Matter Network








 

 

 

Herding cats...August 2009

7/6/09 Your Co-ordinates (adapted 8/1/09)

This journal contains notes I take as I explore what it takes to be a great software, systems and enterprise architect. This is a journal of the more traditional sort--a place to keep track of pieces of my exploration, and a place to write as part of my meaning-making process. So it is a wandering sort of place, and is not intended to suit the taste of many, but rather to serve my own purpose. I make it public because:

  • it is a powerful soporific and can save you from 4 in the morning ...  (I have proof: Last month more than a 100 visits to this site lasted more than an hour, and close to 150 lasted between 30 minutes and an hour. There is only one explanation: powerful soporific. V-e-r-y p-o-w-e-r-f-u-l....*)

  • I hope that in serving me, some of this work serves you too. But it is a time-ordered mechanism to access my thinking. If you don't like the word volume or lack of structure, there is an alternative--I try to pull out pieces of it into our more categorically ordered Resources for Software Architects website. I am an optimist. If you got this far, you are too. That means we're bad for each other. Go find some doom and gloom to balance yourself out!

  • it affords me Google's site-specific search function. With 3.5 years of journaling here, that's an indispensable memory crutch. I need a memory crutch. I obviously have nothing relevant to say.

  • your presence is encouraging--and just intimidating enough that I keep an outtakes bin close at hand (though perhaps not close enough).

8/1/09: Until entries collect, you can:

  • relish the brevity of this page--it won't last!
  • go back to July, or other months (navigation on the left sidebar)
  • ponder this: what is the world coming to when you're reading my list of things you can do???

That should do the trick: bounce!

You're still here? Ryan just asked why my email address is ruth@traceinthesand.ru.cz Very pertinent question! ru.cz -- are you crazy?

Back in May, Ryan made a corn necklace at camp. He gave it to me today. Significant? You're new to this aren't you? Well, don't worry, I'll cure you of hope in no time.

There. A nice quiet backwaters place. But if any death star wielding grammar correctors do find me, they should note that aircraft carrier names should be italicized. Make that Fluffy Easter Bunny. Sir!

Sir? After what happened to me yesterday, I'm not taking any (unmoderated) chances! Software visualization (images from Lattix, Shrimp, SoftGUESS, XRay and Code City)

(* Yes, I do realize that the stats signify only that a few stalwart friends have parked my site on a browser tab. But it was fun to say that.)

8/2/09 More on the Software Visualization Thread

The list of visualization resources is growing, so I have moved it to a separate page. DSMs have gained quick acceptance into the toolset, because they allow visibility into structural dependencies. They support refactoring decisions at the architectural level (during code evolution and cleanup), and can be used to help communicate the architecture and for architecture governance by making compromises to architectural intent/rules visible. As important at structural analysis tools are, there are other tools that help at different points in the lifecycle.

I composed the image (right) with snips from Lattix, Shrimp, SoftGUESS, X-Ray and CodeCity.     

8/3/09 A Neat Envisioning Story--Done At Hollywood's Expense

8/3/09 Speeding Product Development

Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE), including simulation and visualization, helps to lower design and engineering costs and accelerate development of new and innovative products. In fields where building a prototype is expensive and time-consuming, simulation can allow design ideas to be tested out earlier and more cheaply. For example, flow visualization allows aeronautical and automotive designs to be subject to evaluation at the design stage, using only models. In the world of tangible goods, rapid prototyping has seen incredible advances; for example, 3D printers allow design concepts to be materialized quickly. delight and user experience

So far, I'm not finding the "good stuff" on simulating software designs analogously--for example, simulating performance under various load and scale assumptions. Yes, there's simulating--or providing more sophisticated mock-ups--the user-facing design. That's great; architecturally significant even, if the architect is watching for right system, designed right. Not that the architect is (necessarily) the usability expert, or the user-centered design expert, etc., etc. But if the architect has the overall system purview, then this must include system value, which includes user experience... So, on the matter of right design, I collected some links to tools in the area of visualization in requirements and user interaction design.

On the matter of designed right, what simulation/prediction tools do you know about? What about production tools for system health monitoring with a view to design tuning?

Oh, yes, I did see Lattix characterized as a tool that allows "simulation" of refactoring. At any rate, it is a DSM tool that allows "what if" analysis of the impact of strategically restructuring/refactoring the code base.

I'm still scouting in the software visualization space. If you're using or aware of useful tools for visualizing software systems (including getting a handle on/visualizing complex code bases), please do let me know. Of course, no good deed will go unpunished, and if you do point me to a product or approach that you like, my next question will be "what do you like about it/what challenges does it help you address?" But please do remember, you'll be doing us all a service. And I'll quote you, if you give me permission to. (Unless you say something unquotable, of course!)

Also, if there is anything in an analogy space that hints at things we should be doing in software, please let me know.

On the radar:

8/3/09 An Inspiring Woman!

Aimee Mullins is the world's most amazing woman! She is charming and funny, and given that we all carry our own set of rocks, she teaches us how to do that with grace. She is a high-achiever used to accomplishing what she aspires to, so her reflections on setting goals and acknowledging with self-respecting gratitude our interim accomplishments are poignant. She is a great ambassador for everyone who has a disability, even when the disability is not as visible as missing lower legs and feet; like, say, the disability is a lack of social grace or low "emotional intelligence" (Dana, reflecting on being a software architect in the operating systems lab at HP in the late 80's, put it like this: "others seemed to have some kind of 6th sense, like invisible political antenna, and they always knew what was going on in the organization long before I did"). We too can set goals: for instance, we could make ourselves eat lunch with other people and talk about them--not so often we crash our internal systems, but, say, once a week or something. Things like that.  

8/4/09 Refactoring Tools

Tools for code refactoring:

8/5/09 Online Collaboration Tools

Google Wave is not without precedent. SocialCast has a similar flavor, though isn't as powerful. For one thing, on a cursory surf, SocialCast seems to be limited by a critical assumption: it is a "gated community"... (connects fellow employees within an enterprise, but also doesn't seem to have the community extensibility that Google is actively encouraging). I don't know how Google will make money on Wave, but if it is a free and open ecosystem, it will be transformative. Much of what exists in the collaboration space will need to fold in, or fold.

But, while we wait for Wave, we still need to collaborate... so I have shared my search for tools to support me--this is another area where the resources and associated links quickly exploded, so I have pulled them off to a separate page. See collaboration tools for mainly free (at least for scaled down use) collaboration tools of various types, including shared online whiteboards, file sharing services, as well as screen sharing and group chat, etc., etc. If there are free or low cost distributed collaboration tools that you use and like, please let me know!

Since this is all about collaboration tools, I created a Mindmap of CollaborationTools using Mindmeister (image above right). I've opened it so you can edit it. Please add useful content to the collaborative map.

If you are actively looking into collaboration tools, then Robin Good's Collaborative Map is a very useful resource!

8/5/09 The Power of an Integrating Concept

Google Wave is going to raise lots of discussions. One I think will be useful, is around the power of design concepts like the Wave, and how that reaches into the system structure and across the user experience design--with no artificial walls between user experience or outward-facing design and internal behavior-supporting structural design.

8/5/09 Playing with "Collaboration Tools"

I stumbled on ScrapBlog by way of Robin Good's collaboration map. Not being sure if it was for "scraps" (that'd be a neat way to collaborate, don't you think?), or a "scrapbook" blog, I went there. It turns out... it sure is a nifty way to waste use time, and show off just a few of our Lasqueti vacation photos! I know, it looks like we could have/should have been there forever, but we only had a week. Great memories though! (View large on black background, or click deck below).

I am impressed with ScrapBlog. It might be too nice! I mean in the class of "delight"--and I don't mean in a "scrapbooking is for girls" kind of way! Well that too--it is especially cool for someone like me who has family on three continents; make a quick photo montage, and voila, no need to send postcards! But I see this as a neat, real easy, low overhead way to do an Archman cartoon thing. I'll show you later...

8/5/09 Code Analysis Tools

Daniel Stroe rescued me from the sounds of silence on my request for input, and these are code analysis tools he uses:

  • SourceInsight (for C, C++, C# and Java): program editor and can display reference trees, class inheritance diagrams, and call trees
  • SciTools: source code analysis and metrics for large, complex amounts of source code
  • CrystalFlow from SVGsarc: flow charts from source code

Daniel also mentioned Fatesoft's CVF: Code Visual to Flowchart tool as a less pricy option. Speaking of price, yes, tools like Lattix are up there, but the L.L.Bean case study might help you persuade your management to loosen the purse-strings a little.

Everybody else sent their input to ruth@traceinthesand.ru.cz, right? Ha!

Grin.

8/5/09 Archman's Guide to the Role of the Software Architect

I reaped some low-hanging fruit (you'll no doubt recognize the sketches) playing with an architecting by archman sequence on ScrapBlog--simply because it's there, and it's a fun diversion. Meaning, I was supposed to work on the accounting system tonight, but allowed myself to get waylaid.

 

So that's a proof-of-concept. It might be worth drawing some sketches so I can actually tell a coherent story... Ah time... scarce it is!

Anyway, I tried a travel-log scrapbook, the Lasqueti postcard series, and the Archman sketchblog thing, and I conclude ScrapBlog is more than it appears to be (a superb site for scrapbook hobbyists)! I do wish I could group and arrange scrapbooks... The more you love something, the more you become aware of how you'd like it to be, well, ... more... Oh, did you see that a kind lady already hearted Archman? That's the really neat thing about doing something where the ladies (predominantly) hang out! Well, there you have it; no-one else can have the distinction of being first. But, was she too kind...?? Now I won't set my sights high enough... standards will crumble... No, far better not to encourage me! ;-)

Of course I could do this in GIMP and pull the images into Powerpoint, and publish it on SlideShare. I'm sorry, I should care... I've been there, done that, and at this point, getting the job done is what I care about--not my nerd image! Once the Archman thing stabilizes into something I like, I'll do the GIMP--Powerpoint--SlideShare version (for the image conscious to link to; wink). Until then, quick and dirty--or, in the case of ScrapBlog, quick and looks good--works for me! That's the essence of the idea behind storyboarding, isn't it?

8/8/09 Technology Makes Wind!

The winds of change are blowing; the economic doldrums can't last because this wind is set to change everything! All this scouting around in the visualization space has me bursting with excitement because the gales of technology-driven (and especially software-driven) change are blowing into every landscape of human endeavor. I know, you're groaning at my excitement about Scrapblog. As a scrapbook social-net-publishing tool (it's target application), it is exquisitely simple to do something professional on the scale of one. That is my excitement: it is the long-tail phenomenon where scrapblog and etsy and vrbo and kiva and on and on are just spots--exemplary spots, I'll grant--on the landscape. It is the Cottage Revolution that I saw coming, but that is not precisely what excites me so. It is that creativity and empowerment are ever being pushed out to the individual. And product opportunities are blossoming in the wake of wave upon wave of change. Take an instance: what we expect from mobile phones is changing rapidly and will continue to (put together this and this and this and this and this and more)! The iPhone produced a sweeping wave of change that opened up the competitive space in ways the players with a lock on the industry didn't even see coming!  That will happen again and again. And on and on it goes! The companies that are laying off droves of engineers are the companies who don't see with their mind's eye all the possibilities!

The product and service innovation space is not slowing down; only timid executives are. The automotive industry seemed dead, but look at what the pent up demand for changing to a more environmentally friendly car has produced! The American consumer loves a deal, and as soon as they got a good deal on relieving their conscience, they went out and got smaller, more fuel efficient cars, switching away from trucks ands SUVs. Not in ones or twos. Not in hundred and thousands. But in hundreds of thousands (234,384 by Friday 7th)! Of course it'd be nice if, instead of taking the middle slice of guzzlers off the road, the program made it possible to take the bottom tier of worst offenders off the road. The most beat-up, low mileage cars are still being run because their owners can't afford the next level up clunker--they can't buy a used car, let alone a new car--even when the tax-payer is putting up $4,500.00. Why doesn't the program let people swap their older, unsafe, lower mileage real clunkers, instead of trashing newer cars brought in under the "cash for clunkers" program? That way we could swap out the worst of the worst offenders, and give the poorest people a safer, more reliable option for getting to work each day. And then... there's those "pesky unintended consequences"... I have to think if Jaime Lerner had been designing this program, we'd have had a much more human, and all-round better for the planet, solution.

Jaime Lerner? I see he's on TED! You can also read about Lerner here, and (you probably remember) we tell stories about him in our workshops.

Can you name a field of endeavor that is untouched by technology-driven change?

For instance, I wanted to highlight something on a webpage I want to share (like the 234,384 number on the news page). I checked and the app is out there! This Innovation Age is so totally, awesomely cool--or... is that cuil!

Technology makes wind. Wind makes waves. Waves of creative destruction. Coming up-river.

[8/17/09: Yes, that's a hat tip to Grady Booch. Oh yeah, I went after Donald for being funny, and didn't lay into Mr. Booch for being lyrical. It is a wonderful metaphor, delivered with the style of an oracle. What are these guys leaving to me? Archman? Gosh, I'd better scan in those images I drew last week to round out my Archman's Guide to the Universe Architecture cartoon-sketch thing... Why don't I? Have to install my scanner. Why haven't I? I have to reconfigure my desk space. Why haven't I? I dunno... inertia... 20 zillion things more interesting than installing a scanner... I was about to say no-one interested in Archman, but after 265 views I guess I've disappointed enough visitors and ought to tune up that sketchbook/sb...]

8/8/09 Information Maps are Smokin!

Have you looked at Jonathan Harris's Daylife Universe? It is a neat way to look at and find news through different lenses. Is anything Jonathan Harris relevant to the architect, from a professional, not just largeness-of-human spirit, standpoint? His information maps are superb! Take a look at the "smokin" map. Gives one pause, doesn't it? You still don't see it? How about if I say "graphical history" and "competitive landscape map"? I'm buzzed about putting visualization stuff in a format like that.

8/12/09 Sublime Moment

Last weekend, Dana and I went to the IU Opera Theater's production of The Light in the Piazza. It was a superb production; the staging was so incredibly artful, the performance well worthy of its standing ovation and repeated curtain calls. But it was more. The story and the music builds to a sublime crescendo with solos by Clara, then Fabrizzio and then Margaret. All this was momentous, but added to that was this feeling that not only was this a climactic moment in a story about love threatened but not thwarted, it was a climatic moment in the experience of the singers and the audience. In those moments, utterly lost in Christa Ruiz' soprano, McLaughlin's tenor, and Sarah Stone's soprano, no-one was conscious of their own self, only the soaring voices that brought the story to its ultimate truth: the rare and pure quality of selfless love. They transfixed and transformed the audience. That was an exquisite achievement for the young cast--who have given their lives into their talent with ardor.

It was a culmination not only of lots of rehearsals, but of a passionate investment, hard work, and joy. I saw the cast coming and going from the studio next to the one Sara's ballet camp was using in the IU MAC, and it struck me how much they love what they do. Singing in the hallways (despite the signs not to) as they arrived and left the studio. Enjoying their talent, being immersed in their passion. Sara has that same joy in dance, and is always dancing, unconscious, even though she is shy, of drawing attention. She makes observers smile despite themselves.

Passion for what one does, joyful immersion in it, is a gift--to oneself, and to those around us.

Life in "the arts" is demanding, competitive, uncompromisingly exacting--and rewarding when it brings recognition, but rewarding too in the enjoyment, the joy of being immersed in what one is passionate about. Product and system development is demanding too. Talent, skill, experience are all thrown into the creative hopper. But much of what we do in software goes un-applauded, except by the measure of market penetration. One of the neat things about Photoshop is the names of the team on the initialization screen. Back before Agilent was spun off, a team in the HP Medical Products group had their signatures cast into the molding for the plastic cover on a medical scanner product, so if you knew where to look, you could see who'd worked on the product. So there are instances on the landscape where teams are recognized, and get to take an implied "curtain call" when a product with their name on it is favorably received. It'd be neat if that was thought about more--making the team visible, so they take the heat for a market flop, yes, but also the glow for all the many market successes. But even without curtain calls, we too have, as is fitting for a field that is at the center of making so much possible, passionate engineers and architects who find life-expanding joy in creating great software. But it is, in the end, the great software that we strive to create that is important too. Somehow these things are connected. The joy in the doing, the getting there, and the joy of the moment when it all comes together, and humanity gasps at its beauty, at its rightness.

I'm going to go back to Scrapblog. The Scrapblog business model might be a challenge for them to work the kinks out of. But on the software side, the team has created something that is downright cool. I am, you might say, gasping at its "just right"-ness. Take your bows folk!

Software shows up in surprising places, making people's lives better. Enabling us to do things they couldn't do a century and even a decade ago. And when it is just right, when it fits its purpose (even a purpose it created) so naturally we are blown right out of our self-centered frame in sheer wonder, the team deserves to be applauded. 

So even if you think "big deal" about scrapblog, I hope that doesn't damp the meta point. The team deserves to be applauded.

You'll note that I didn't say that about Mindmeister. I am impressed by a lot that is happening in the sphere of applications available free on the internet--in the browser! Mindmeister is no runt in the litter. I'll use it again, though I do want to try Mind42 first. That says something, doesn't it? Oh, and I've started to play with the Creately beta (an online collaborative drawing app, with a growing set of UML stencils).    

8/12/09 Team Memory

I play the role of planning the making of, structuring, and recording big family moments--at least those can be planned. Of course, one doesn't really think of it that way--in terms of memories, but at the end of the day, that is what it is. And the memories are the roots of tomorrow; they create the shared stories that shape the nuclear culture and build principle and practice. So, you could dismiss the next thought...

You play the role of planning, structuring, and recording the "tribal lore" and team memory for your project. What gets talked about gets done. What is vivid and memorable, shapes what gets talked about and done. How people feel, shapes... you get the point. Don't you think it would be neat to put faces and dates together with big moments like a group modeling session when key pieces of the architecture "fall out" of the team flow? Oh goodness, I'm certainly not suggesting "use scrapblog" (even if it is fool-easy to make something that looks good). But I am saying that creating a graphic trail of team high-spots will celebrate the team and anchor tribal memory in important team moments. It is one of those "pictures that draw people in" kinds of things. You can shrug this off on the project manager. She should take care of stuff like this. Or... carpe diem. Structure the shared memories and you influence the overt conversations and emotional substrate of the project.

Eye candy has its place. And some vivid visuals explaining and anchoring your architecture in the team experience and "tribal mind" will likely entice more eyes than the usual text brick. Spinach may be healthy, and Popeye might even like it, but too many architecture documents read like chewing spinach... or kale even. Hey, I like spinach, and even kale, in moderation, and with onions and garlic--lots of garlic. (Um, but this doesn't apply to any that I've read recently, of course! No really! Grin.)    

What am I saying? Posters. Not just a blow-up of your block diagram, but something that draws people in. Hand drawn is great for early in the project, when you want to convey that it is not hard-baked. Oh, I know--many of you do this. And those who don't feel constrained--what wall-space to use, etc. And others just shrug--where to find the time...  So, it's just a little whisper of a reminder to think of other vehicles and formats for conveying key aspects of your architecture, and doing so in a way that recognizes that it is people, not machines, who create great software. People who are influenced by the team culture and the artifacts that create and preserve culture; the shared experiences and the celebration of contributions that make the "tribe" and its micro-culture. 

“If you want to get a message across, it’s better to do a colourful visual rather than text.”

-- Gabisele Nkosi on social change

(You can see pictures of Gabisele Nkosi's series of 6 linocuts, titled "healing," here; if you scroll down, you can also see her thoughts on each one.)

And with that, I need to go work on a visualization poster. :-)

8/13/09 Towards a Visualization Poster

I'm inching towards a concept--at this point I'm more playing with the tools than really focusing on the content. Anyway, dimensions I want to capture include system envisioning and as well as what is more traditionally seen within the software visualization box. And I think the software opportunity, and the challenges inherent in it, should be part of the characterization. More to do...

8/14/09 When You have a Hammer

I'm well aware that you are either impatient, or smiling tolerantly, at my enthusiasm for "scrapblog"--in quotes, because my enthusiasm is for something bigger, though I am happy to add a new example to my zappos and kiva and etsy collection of delight exemplars. And I also have a habit of looking in the mirror, and this time I am asking myself "so, another nail, huh?"

Which reminds me of Donald's post last weekend. I told Dana about it, and when I got to the gun part Dana laughed deliciously and said "yes, architecture works really well when the architect has a gun--the only gun." You guys, the things you think! ;-)

From time to time, I look at what search phrase brought someone to my site. Here's a couple (verbatim) from this month:

  • give me some topics to write in my journal about?
  • software development diagram i should stop now

Ok, lets go there... Yesterday, Dana and I were working on the design for an architect competency block, and the topic of "how far?" or "when do I stop?" or "isn't this a lot to do?" came up. Talking about the pulsing rhythm of architecting, Dana used a lovely image--of jellyfish pulsing. It was Dana who filmed these jellyfish when we were in the Smoky Mountains in March (yes, I'm afraid this does mean we were in Pigeon Forge, but only to go to the Aquarium on a rainy day!).

Warning: mute first unless you want the rowdy aquarium-background-noise effect:

Now, as with any image or metaphor, the differences from the subject of study raise as many interesting questions as the similarities help us understand! Those (tank-confined) jellyfish are going nowhere (not-so) fast! But the image is beautiful, and applied with an open hearted-mind (yes, I did mean to conflate open heart and open mind), it does make the point, I think. It's that ywlaw kind of image applied to process. The dance. The rhythm of expanding and contracting. The direction change... grin.

"?", you sigh. 'What ... does this have to do with "i should stop now"?'

Bucky Fuller would ask himself this question "What is the most important thing we can think about at this extraordinary moment?" We remind architects to do that--to ask just that question. And to ask it at frequent points that create a pulsing rhythm for the work. To help focus this question, we advocate taking an earnest scan over and beyond the work so far, asking "what are our dominant uncertainties, challenges and risks?" (This last, you may note, I borrowed and tailored from something I learned from Charlie Alfred--Charlie is a great mentor and teacher, and I recommend his papers and blog.)

Our tendency, analytic engineers that we are, is to go too far down our current tack of analysis. We do an activity diagram at the system level, then keep going, elaborating the activities with nested activity diagrams...until... we're designing algorithms we might just as well have designed in code. And what do we have? A bunch of activity diagrams that take up much more volume than code!  And no (new) working code! BDUF! The pulsing rhythm reminds us to be strategic, to focus on the make-or-break challenges for the project and where it is at, and do just enough.

I love collaborating! I love the unexpected places you go, when you interact with another smart, internal-lights-brightly-lit person. 

(ywlaw? What, you didn't follow my link to John Rives Emoticons TED talk last month?)

8/15/09 Visualization Research and Tools

Speaking of collaborative engagement (and internal-lights-brightly-lit architects), I have more pointers to thank Daniel Stroe for--and to share with you:

The iPlasma site led me back to Mondrian and Moose:

A privileged interaction with a luminary in our field pointed to the Chisel projects at the University of Victoria:

8/15/09 Something Like This

Dana has told me about, and today pulled out of our library, Stafford Beer's Platform for Change. Dana had quoted this piece and I seized upon it, because it resonates so strongly with me (this comes at the end of his explanation of the format of his book):

"When you see this colour again

you are back to the narrative

to personal bits.

Skip them if they bore you

I really don't want to indulge myself

at your expense.

 

But equally

I am fed up with hiding myself

an actual human being

behind the conventional anonymity

of scholarly authorship."

So, you see, I keep good company in my rebellion against the conventional schism between the work persona and the "actual human being"!

In truth, I'm well aware that the twittering-blogging age has unleashed the beast, if that is how you view the personal.

8/15/09 Narcissism

So, Donald was thinking of narcissism; a good subject to ponder right after putting himself willingly in the way of getting his grey matter pounded...    playing whack-a-mole with architects

Today, as it happens, I reread Seamus Heaney's Personal Helicon. If you want to understand narcissism and blogs, it's a great poem to contemplate! It is splendid and not very long (compared to Beowulf!), but the last verse is what is most relevant:

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set
the darkness echoing.

Isn't that lovely? How the meaning reverberates, echoing--with a clean new music in the voice!

Oh, Don(ald), don't write narcissism right after you got your head bashed a bunch!

And, I'm sorry to have to be the one to say this... but don't you get that enough at work, without having to go out and get whack-a-moled on weekends?

More funny posts. Less getting your smarts beat right out of you. Ok? Think "regret-minimization." Bezos used his 80-year old self, but I suspect that your 49 year old self on August 9th would be a good candidate for the exercise. ;-)

8/24/09: If you weren't reading along back in March, that whack-a-mole sketch came out of realizing that when you lead, there will be resistors and detractors and turf tsars and more, taking their pot shots at you. The key thing is to remain enthusiastic--to pop back up, without wearing down. Resilience and enthusiasm are important traits.

8/16/09 New Operating System

I have been catching up on David Sibbet (The Grove), and read the commencement address by Paul Hawkin that he posted. It is a powerful call to action, including many memorable lines like these:

"Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades."

"At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product."

Commencement Address, Paul Hawkin, May 3, 2009

8/16/09 Stumbling and Bumbling into Second Life...

I have balked at entering Second Life... but reading David Sibbet's blog, I found myself wanting to visit his studio on Second Life... So... I succumbed. Rats! It is everything I feared it would be--a black hole sucking time right out of real life into SL! ... oh... I'm merely frustrated with my avatar and feel like you have to have 10 weeks experience with avatar customization in your first seconds--the very first choices you make are crucial and stay with you for your whole (second) life (you can "kill" your avatar, but that's not very nice, is it?). I didn't know that going in, but still took more moments on the name thing than I usually spend on "username". Ok, Ruth does pretty well for me. The closest I could think of at a moment's notice was Cordelia (from King Lear). I thought, given the source, capital Cordelia would be a vanity... so cordelia... You can pick a first name, but then your lastname has to be chosen from a constrained set. Ok you can play with first names, and see what lastname options come up... That was more than I could face, and Aries was an option--you know, Aries is a ram and my initials are RAM so that seemed good enough.

Then of course, a few moments after you commit, it sinks in that this handle is permanent... Cordelia is not the prettiest of names... as much as I identify with her love and kindness and steadfast "speak truth to power even at the ultimate price of relationships and station"...Yes, yes, Cordelia's goodness and beauty is eloquently signified when the French king marries her despite her loss of status and fortune, indicating that, while others were blind to it, he saw her nature... All of which speaks to the intrinsic greatness of the woman and the man who married her. Oh, I should say--if a name is inspiring, it gives you something to grow into--sort of like a projection of the you that you want to be, that beckons your development; a vision if you like.

Still, Cordelia doesn't exactly ring, does it? Besides... Aries is only a shade off Ares and who knows the difference? What's more--both Cordelia and Aries met an early and grim death. One doesn't want to hang that on oneself, even in SL! Pout! :-)

Then... to play with customizing the avatar. Again I got impatient with the time I was taking, so my avatar is a few tweaks off the default "girl next door." I must suppose there are artists out there making a Linden living off customizing avatars to be a better representation of the 1st lifer who pushes their buttons.  I can't do anything with the hair, other than take it off. I'm not going there. It's a frustrating way to get in to Second Life, and it should be fixed! Like... create your avatar in a "sand box second life" (think of it as "childhood")... iterate on it... and if you're a social type, by all means play with other Second Lifers who are just getting "born," but give me a privacy screen so I can figure out who I am before strangers start asking to be my friend... and when you feel like you're growing up and have assumed a Second identity that you're happy with, then make your big commitments to name and body and HAIR! Don't tell me you can change your hair at any time. Don't! Ok? I can't change my hair and I'm having a foot-stomping pout about it!

Ugh I say!

Ok, when you're having a bad hair day in RL you can detox, go for a foot spa or something. Beautiful people stuff. I'm not a "beautiful people" person. So I detoxed looking at some fun 404 pages. (Like.. I identify with 404 errors right now!) And there's even a neat little visualization one. Some people have a sense of humor! Maybe Linden does, but I kind of feel like their joke is on me! Not nice! (Wink; having a peevish adolescent pout is fun, in a "hey, it's been too long since I've done this" kind of way!) Anyway, here's nextwave's 404:

 http://www.nextwaveperformance.com/oops.html

A while later: Um. I tried the hair thing again, and it worked this time! Gone is that perky brown pony tail. Wahoo! Maybe I simply had to log out and back in. That works in real life...

So I walked around The Grove facilities on SL, including The Galleries. Oh, it is breathtaking what they have done! It is well worth that painful birthing! (If you have resisted, but find yourself being drawn in--just think a little about your name first. And your starting avatar. Its much like the quote we use at the beginning of the Init/Commit section in the workshop: "All the important mistakes are made on the first day." You might even want to read some of the blogs and tutorials first... I'm afraid I don't ask for directions, and mostly don't think to read the instructions... Perhaps that's why I was attracted to software!) But I had so much fun visiting The Grove on Second Life that I made a postcard for you:

  Cor visits The Grove in Second Life

How about that?  I was there. I really was!

Grin.

So, I'm thinking a nice little caterpillar costume... a dryas julia perhaps... might get me around while I incubate... Or not. I have so much 1st life-ing to do! And I enjoy my real life! Worrying about being an outsider to the in-cult of SL doesn't suit me one bit! (;-)

Still... what a seductive place--these images on Flikr give a glimpse. If one is going to have a second life though, it sure would be nice if it didn't have to be on borrowed time! Time borrowed from a vibrant, creative, full (to overflowing) real life!

Wrt the postcard--I did turn the name thing off after those snips... I suppose when you're first born you don't know who you are, so you need to see your own name... Such a learning curve! More, another day, perhaps...

8/17/09 Virtual Testing with Model-based Design

Here's a nicely framed argument for model-based testing: Virtual testing with model-based design, by Brett Murphy, Industrial Control DesignLine, August 17, 2009. This statement makes a compelling case for the active involvement of the architect during requirements "gathering":

"Many organizations are finding that most errors they uncover in test and integration were introduced at the beginning of the design process while interpreting system requirements."

I have written about this "virtual testing" topic just a few (smile) times... for example Testing on paper (5/12/09)

8/17/09 Enterprise Architecture Workshop

Dana Bredemeyer will be teaching our Enterprise Architecture Workshop in Chicago, August 31-Sept 3. This workshop covers VAP for EA, and in particular the creation, elaboration and reification of the Business Capabilities Architecture--giving the senior management team the levers to guide the enterprise along its adaptive, ever-evolving course. 

8/17/09 Brazil

I will be in Brazil for a week in September. Gulp. I love to travel. But I'm not going to learn Portuguese in a few weeks, now am I? Double gulp.       

8/17/09 Fowler and Zimmer

Martin Fowler's reflections on the appeal of photography to geeks (and documenting his camera tech), had me returning to Brian Zimmer's blog and his photo essays clickable on his "wandering" map. I think bald eagles appeal to us so, because they soar as our spirits do when we throw ourselves at life.

Great as Brian is, he is humble and gracious. It took me some wandering to find these. Stunning! 

8/18/09 Why There Are Still Leadership Courses!

Donald's Leadership Development piece got a rare comment, so I looked at it. It is more hilarious than Donald's "when people ask me if they can ask a question" quip! Check this out:

"Each time I attend ... one of [these] courses, what I always wonder is that there are people who still earn a living from these courses."

How does that strike you? Read it again. "Each time" ... Each of several times... Some people are just so delightfully unself-aware. (Either that, or this individual's sense of comedy is as peaked as Donald's is.)

I'm afraid we make some of our living off seasoned developers who are technically superb and whose managers hope-hope-hope that our workshops will create a "ding" of recognition that architecture is a socio-technical endeavor, helping the person launch into the transition from technical specialist to architect. Whenever someone says in their introduction (at the start of a workshop) "my manager sent me" I go on red-alert. Will I be able to trigger a "ding" for this person...? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. And when it is no, that person lambastes me for drawing them through what was a very uncomfortable experience for them! (System thinking, translating from business strategy to technical strategy, modeling--out loud and in groups, testing on paper and performing thought experiments, and communicating, communicating, communicating can be a sore set of lessons for someone who likes telling computers what to do.) Fortunately my success rate is strong enough that my wounds heal--like child-birth, since it happens only once every few years, I forget the pain.  

Vision rock crashes over...Yes, technical people will not apply constraining technical decisions made by someone who is technically incompetent (not unless a "gun" is involved). But sheer intellectual horsepower and experience isn't enough. There's this little matter of getting the great architecture that is in the head of the architect into the shared mind-space of the team. Or, better still, creating the great architecture in the shared mind-space of the team, and adapting and evolving it as understanding deepens and needs morph. This is a collaborative endeavor, yet one that needs to be led. If you want to make progress in competitive timeframes, leadership is critical to balancing both an orientation to action and system integrity. Ding.

Or not. Rocks tumble.

8/18/09 Second Adolescence!

Speaking of being self-aware... Goodness I find I am excruciatingly self-conscious taking my first steps in SL! I went to the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum thinking my office-ready black shirt and pencil skirt wouldn't be too out of place there and it was something to do while I figured out if I wanted to brave in-world shopping or out-of-world wardrobe creation. A girl in a floaty little dress came by. She saw me and ran away! Screaming no doubt. Like I was the boogey man. It's a catch-22--I can't go shopping looking like that, but I need something else to wear. I have the image-angst of a teenager! If I take the fantasy aspect of SL seriously, I'd say I need a fairy godmother to metamorphose me--a dress styled after the dryus julia butterfly would be appropriate, since I've concluded that the black thing is my dryus julia caterpillar form. Grin.

The image in my footer this month seems particularly appropriate....  Oh, I know I can go into Appearance and change the color and style and whatnot. But that's no fun! It's been a very long time since I had even a modicum of image-angst. And frightening girls in floaty little dresses is pretty cool in a Darth-Don kind of way. I don't get to experience that much at all. Except... on my children, who don't think I'm serious until I Darth-Don at them in exasperation. Grin. Besides, I'd have to relinquish that fairy godmother fantasy thing ... ;)  I'm sorry... I'm both too serious and not serious enough!

Darth-Don. That has to be a viral-able meme if ever there was one! Darth-Cor isn't nearly as good, though it fits right now.

Don't mind me--I am having fun with this--teasing myself and learning about SL and myself in the process. I'm not tremendously sure about spending the time... I'm a "feet on the ground" kind of person (even though I've been called a "philosopher" by a tech lead and it wasn't meant to be taken as a compliment)... There are a number of RL businesses with a presence on SL but they seem pretty empty. The time and real money investment in building the kind of presence The Grove has is staggering. I wonder how much business it generates? The fantasy/sci fi/anime/adult areas may be busy but I haven't ventured outside my comfort zone--why would I go places I wouldn't go in real life? Magical places, yes. Places where you have to have a tattoo to fit in, no. But how can you tell, in advance? I need a guide who understands that I am not a prude, but I do have principles and one of those is around protecting my time! You know, it occurs to me that I need to see if Orbitz has a presence in SL! I need to find a hotel room where I can change in private! I need travel assistance... Archman in Second Life

I get that it is important to build experience with these frontiers, and to establish a presence in the mind of the online communities. It helps create future-forward branding to become branded in something like SL. But so far, is the raison d'être for avatars in SL mostly recreational socializing (in the adult content sense) not professional socializing? (Except for artists, that is.)

Well, I'm taking it seriously enough that I missed dinner making a Bredemeyer logo t-shirt, but I still have to try it out. There's the small matter of trying on the t-shirt. In the public sandbox at the help station?  I don't think so!  :-)

If that works, I think I'll make an arch{wo}man in SL (front) and arch{wo}man in RL (back) t-shirt! Grin.

8/19/09: update: I popped in to the Stanford Library (in SL) and fell down the elevator shaft. So I quit. Pout. That did it for my 15 minutes today. Grin.

8/20/09: It's too bad Anthropologie doesn't have a store on SL... I suppose, in time... I'm both too late and too early in my misadventures. 

8/20/09: If you see any parallels to Donald's insanity piece, you're not alone. :-)

10/1/09 Update: In Brazil, by law you have to look to make sure the elevator is there before you step in. In SL there are no such laws. Only inhibitions, and those are entirely optional! Grin. I hope that you get that my entire recounting of this experience is oriented to teasing myself! SL is more fun than I thought. I might even go back as soon as I hear Anthropologie has opened up a store and is selling their RL line in SL. That'd be a neat way to try out their styles, wouldn't it? Yes, that's a Linden hint. ;-)

8/18/09 Call for Papers on State of EA--FYI

Cutter IT Journal: Enterprise Architecture: The State of the Practice 2010

Abstract Submission Date: 28 August 2009

Articles Due: 2 October 2009

"The November Cutter IT Journal invites useful debate and analyses on what's new in EA and how EA can deliver value to the organization. What is your perspective on the state of EA today and in the future?

TOPICS OF INTEREST MAY INCLUDE (but are certainly not limited to) a combination of the following:

  • Do EA frameworks provide helpful guidelines or are they a distraction?

  • What are the benefits/myths of certification value?

  • What are some successful stories regarding EA repositories and other tools?

  • How can EA value be applied to the decision support process? What is EA's role in business alignment, strategy and portfolio management?

  • How can EA be integrated into the outsourcing and contracting process to achieve architectural goals and governance?

  • What is EA's role in cloud computing?

  • How can the implementation of Enterprise 2.0 technologies benefit EA?

  • What is the role of metrics in an EA program?

  • How can EA leadership promote value up, down and across the enterprise?

  • How do EA organizational structures contribute to the success of the enterprise?

  • What is the role of EA during a financial crisis?

  • What are some effective enterprise IT funding models and how can organizations make the transition to use these models?

TO SUBMIT AN ARTICLE IDEA

Please respond to Mike Rosen at mrosen at cutter with a copy to itjournal at cutter, no later than 28 August and include an extended abstract and a short article outline showing major discussion points."

www.wordle.net image of most freq. words on this page

8/19/09 Wordle To Improve

I used Wordle to work on my bad habits and decrease the number of times "people" and "just" appear on this page. Like, now I have to work on like. See, visualization is great!

The result is kind of cool, in a "tempting to try to make sense of it" way...

But don't!

(I had to get below 50 words on the Wordle to cut Dana out of the picture. Grin.)

8/19/09 Visual Language

A great visualization pointer comes by way of Grady Booch's blog (entry dated 8/18/09):

'From a paper in the most recent issue of Nature Biotechnology comes this paper on the Systems Biology Graphical Notation by researchers from places as far ranging as the European Bioinformatics Institute to CalTech and beyond. As the abstract notes, "Circuit diagrams and Unified Modeling Language diagrams are just two examples of standard visual languages that help accelerate work by promoting regularity, removing ambiguity and enabling software tool support for communication of complex information. Ironically, despite having one of the highest ratios of graphical to textual information, biology still lacks standard graphical notations. The recent deluge of biological knowledge makes addressing this deficit a pressing concern. Toward this goal, we present the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN), a visual language developed by a community of biochemists, modelers and computer scientists."'

The paper begins:

"Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours" ("A good sketch is better than a long speech"), said Napoleon Bonaparte.

In that field (biotechnology), they're motivating and positioning a standard visual language. In our field, we've been there, done that--often enough to the point of excess that we suffered the backlash ("we value working code over comprehensive documentation," which was taken by many to mean "working code over, and at the expense of, all else"). Now we're back to finding the middle ground. So we're finding ourselves making the case for visualization all over again, but with the benefit of hindsight. A standardized visual language is a good, right thing. How people apply it, when and to what extent and to what end, was the open question. We're learning to better answer those questions now.

We don't criticize English for being too expressive. Or for bad use of English--like being redundant, or too ponderous or writing in excess; this journal for example. That's not the fault of English, now is it...???? Grin. The UML is a great language for expressing software systems visually. The medium can be used effectively, or ineffectively.

8/20/09 Call for Papers on Business Intelligence--Microsoft Architecture Journal

[FYI] Here's the Microsoft Architecture Journal's call for papers on BI:

"For this edition of the Microsoft Architecture Journal, we are looking for interesting, thought-provoking, and insightful articles about effective architecture and Business Intelligence.

Some suggestions for Business Intelligence focus areas include (but are not limited to):

  • Enterprise Business Intelligence strategy and architecture: Effectively reconciling the explosion of data across Operational Data Stores (ODS) and Data Warehouses (DW), building BI solutions that consolidate and work across heterogeneous data sources, successfully leveraging MOLAP, ROLAP and HOLAP for analysis, and integrating enterprise data with integration services, and Information As A Service (IaaS) across on-premises and cloud models.

  • Embedding business insights into your applications: How to embed reports and analysis capabilities into your custom and line of business applications.

  • Infrastructure and performance: Architectural considerations for BI & data warehouse solutions with high-volume, low-latency, low-cost access to data.

  • End-user and self-service Business Intelligence: Empowering end users to build BI solutions with little to no dependence on IT while enabling IT to maintain monitoring & management of end user built solutions. Helping people access, visualize and model disparate data to improve their ability to quickly make decisions and take action.

  • Delivering an effective Business Intelligence project: Structuring an effective BI project, including building an effective team, requirements gathering, change management, customer-connected engineering, success criteria, etc. If you like to share your wisdom and experience with Business Intelligence with the architecture community, this is your chance. 

Submissions must be made to archjrnl at microsoft..."

Schedule:

September 11, 2009: Submit proposal (abstract, reader takeaways, bio, publications).

September 18. Acceptance notified.

October 8. A first draft is due.

October 22. Final draft is due.

8/20/09 Cliffhanger

We have several exciting business ideas. A decade ago, David Redmond-Pyle told me he'd looked at the numbers and the likelihood of a person starting a business once they're over 40 is very small. He was looking at that divide and deciding to go it on his own. We were too. That was a gauntlet I could not resist. We started a business. He did too. Now, I'm across that 40's divide... And I rebel at the notion that inertia sets in, but... I guess that's it--you get to the point where you have developed foresight and can see opportunity glowing in the landscape, but that same foresight gives you a keen sense of what it will cost to go there! Still, waves of change in the personal empowerment space are washing at our expectations, creating a readiness for all kinds of opportunity and the next few years will be very exciting. I conceived of an "etsy" long before etsy, but didn't make the leap... Do I want to do that again? Yes, it's the classic regret minimization framework. And this would be a good time to gather up under-utilized tech talent... All our clients who have standardized on VAP wouldn't mind, would they?

Actually, VAP's time has really come. We hear over and over that VAP is easy to apply. With ten years behind us, we're harvesting the seeds sown at the start of architects' careers. A good many see our workshop as a key personal turning point and VAP as an enabler, and now, as chief chief architects, they're evangelizing VAP outside their divisions into the broader corporate family. So that is very exciting, and very rewarding.

Arch{wo}man* on my mind is my identity. You can't just walk away from your identity!

Still... Certainly I could use my journaling time to better effect. :-) Who needs to "debrief" themselves at the end of the day, anyway? Grin.

* Don't you like that--last year Dana suggested archwoman should have curves and arch{wo}man has them! Grin.

I stumbled upon this entry from some years ago, but it's still nice to come across:

"I met Dana Bredemeyer. Dana's web site has a lot to do with why I am an architect. I spent a lot of time reading his papers and presentations. I so went up to him and told him how much his site help me learn about architecture and make my decision making process easier. I think that he appreciated the feedback." -- Adam Stanley

8/20/09 IDCC Line-Up and Diversity Thoughts

The line up at the Israeli Developers Community Conference is being determined by vote. Many great talks have been proposed! But they do have a diversity problem! Arnon stood out during the tag game that did its rounds a couple of years ago, and I commended him then on being one of the few men to tag women. Arnon, you need to do that again--seek out women in software in Israel and encourage them to show up at these things (on the presenter's side of the mic). You DO have to take affirmative action. There is a lot of disconfirming action, so anyone who is sensitive to the issue has to take a more pro-active stance.

There are many angles on complexity, and diversity of perspective, talent and sensitivity helps harness complexity. Our male dominated (testosterone imbalanced?) field has a radical machismo element; chest-thumping heroism works itself into a cycle that requires more and more heroism!        

Martin Fowler is making a difference, teaming up to give tutorials and presentations with Rebecca Parsons. That's what you get from a man who works in a company that has one of the greatest densities of women developers I've seen. So, Thoughtworks is leading in many ways!        

8/21/09 Tell and Sell, or Get Real Skin in the Game

One approach to leadership is to set (dictate) the agenda. This is generally couched in good team-sport terms: "I'm getting the team started in high gear by giving them something to react to, rather than a blank page."

Something to react to? That orientation sidesteps critical moments when the box is opened, assumptions are ferreted out and set aside, new opportunities are sought and, through active participation, stakeholders come to have a vested stake in the game--their skin is in it, their ideas and identity are wrapped in it. They can see how the "DNA" of their thinking has been woven into the mix, and the new thought-child is the better for the diversity that went into its making.

There are many angles on complexity, and diversity of perspective, talent and sensitivity helps harness complexity to make new things possible in this wondrously exciting, ever-moving world.

8/21/09 Benevolent Dictator--a time-phased approach

I love Darth-Don's stories because they are deliciously layered, and that is why they work as intelligent humor. There are the literal readers who take him at face value. I read somewhere that young kids can't learn to program because they don't grasp the concept of variables yet. Um... clearly that is not a prerequisite! 

Take the leadership piece. Donald is teaching through his story, and his lessons are important and part of his (indirect) point is that the instructor doesn't grok a crucial component of leadership. Do the collaborative thing. Get the considerations and information into the team mind. Absolutely! But someone has to lead, and when time is running out on the decision clock, the leader may have to call upon his or her authority (call it a "gun"). Personally, I'm with Donald on this one, though I could not have set up the lesson with such finesse!

Still, it wasn't only the "gun" that we should see, is it? It is the process that came before. The "gun" was the lesson for the teacher. Consensus processes can stall, and you have to be able to take the lead and move forward with the best decision you see. What preceded the "gun" was the lesson for all the machismo types who want to grab the gun from the get-go--indeed, it is a lesson about teamwork. It is not insignificant that there was only one resistor in the group by decision time. Everyone else had been persuaded to a point of view that was quite different from the other two teams. Persuaded by credibility of the source, by information and no doubt artful rhetoric (consider the source!). And making allowances for their orientation and (eventual) openness to this counter-intuitive information (I conclude counter-intuitive because the other teams came to a different conclusion).

There is something to be said for Tom Hawes style of telling stories and debriefing them. Yes, true, I do that too. :-)  Most recently in our "Getting Past But" report about agile architecture, scaling agile, organizing for architecture and innovation, but also in our "What it Takes to be a Great Architect" report. We tell lots of stories in our workshops, and invite people to share what they make of them, so that people get a sense of the lessons a story holds that they may not see at first glance or hear on first listening. If you're telling a story, you have a head start on thinking about its lessons--both those that caused you to select the story, as well as those that come into view as you think more about it. The Wheel on the School is a case in point. I was attracted to The Wheel because it resonated with some lessons I'd already learned. But the more I read it, the more I learned from it! And the more I tried to teach from it, the more I learned from it! Sometimes it is a new way of framing something known or intuited, but the framing and the organizing relationships are important. (How something is organized makes a new value possible. That is system thinking and the value of architecture!) And sometimes it was an entirely new lesson. Both are important. The content and the framework. The system and the parts. 

Yes, architects are smart. We don't have to be spoon-fed lessons. But then, how many read Darth-Don's leadership piece as a lesson on the need for collaboration, yes, but also to step up to the plate of leadership when the pulse of the decision rhythm beats out time-to-move-on?  But FIRST TO COLLABORATE!

In the context of a consensus lesson, the "gun lesson" is important. In the context of a "gun lesson," the consensus lesson is important.

The architect sees the system, the dual, the dance.

A pulsing process creates a time to open up to collaboration, and a time to ensure that a decision is made--by consensus ideally, but by fiat (the gun) if necessary.

8/21/09 Collaboration Involves Dialog

Oh, I'll grant that Donald's story would have worked better as a medium for making my point (grin) if, in Donald's telling, other people had played a positive role... That is why it is important to think about the lessons. The "gun." It has it's place. The persuasion. It has it's place. And so does the role of the others on the team. Information they brought in. Their acceptance and taking on the role of selling the ideas. These no doubt factored. Not drawing these out perpetuates the chest-thumping hero stereotype. On a superficial reading, that fits Darth-Don's agenda. But I think Darth-Don intended for us to know he tried consensus first. If so, I'd like to see a bit more of the consensus process than just "telling"...

We have to stop simply telling and do more inviting. Lead. But lead also by following well. Listen, but not just to assemble an agenda to dictate. Listen and share. Create dialog. Build the agenda collaboratively--to build a better agenda! Be respectful of others, and show that respect by expecting that they will make a huge difference in the value of the outcome--and allowing them to make a difference.

Does that sound like I'm telling? Oh dear.

Actually, I'm inviting. Inviting a more collaborative mode of working. Inviting a balanced and pragmatic orientation to action that allows that different people bring different value to the process, and that these differences can make the navigating harder but the outcome will be richer. And allowing that sometimes we need a benevolent dictator to move things along. But not first. And not only. Heroes are great for leading change in a world of hurt. Heroes are not great for creating a world of hurt. Let's get out of the rut of meaning our worlds--of making our worlds mean--and make them more fertile, hospitable places where diversity and innovation flourishes.

8/22/09 Don't Believe...

Returning from the local farmer's market this morning, Dana pointed out a bumper sticker:Don't believe everything you think!

 

 

 

I love that so much I think I'll make it my screen saver--and background! Except I'll also add:

Don't believe everything you write (or read)

Grin. The mirror I hold up to myself is flawed. Well, of course I have no direct evidence to warrant such a belief. :-)

8/22/09 Disney's Three Rooms

I was thinking that a really neat use of Second Life would be to implement Disney's "three rooms." Imagine: when the team is in the "dreamer" room, they could be in the magical kingdom places in SL, go on field trips to Planet Mongo, and so forth. I guess the "get real" storyboarding and design room could come from IBM Rational...

Ideas for the "spoiler" or critic room?? I could send Darth-Cor in her scary black "office-ready" outfit... Grin.

If you're interested in Disney's three rooms, Dilts book on Visionary Leadership is very worthwhile.

8/22/09 A Metaphor for Software Development?

Listening to/watching the Drakensberg Boys Choir sing Shosholoza (again), it occurred to me that the way that video is constructed might be a nice metaphor for software development--especially the mode of agile where all hands can be touching any part of the code at any time. Each person has to understand what the structure is, and how their part plays into the overall structure so that the fugue works. And goodness does it work in the case of this piece! And the shining joy of the boys says so much about team flow! Well, even if it doesn't serve as a metaphor to encourage good practices in Agile development, it does serve as a vision for how the world should be! Joyous, vibrant, multi-colored harmony!   

Ryan likes to sing along with the soprano and the alto:

"Shosholoza
Ku lezontaba
Stimela siphum' eSouth Africa
Wen' uyabaleka
Ku lezontaba
Stimela siphum' eSouth Africa"

(the "k" in uyabaleka is pronounced as though it were a "g")  

Oh, you want me to debrief the good practices that are highlighted with this metaphor do you? Nice of you to ask. I'll give you a hint. Think architecture (just enough, views, etc.), rhythm (it'd be chaos without it!), roles (not just the different vocal parts but choreographer and conductor) and fun! And when you put it all together, a performance that delights!

Ok, my family is perhaps more tolerant of my African roots and tastes in music than y'all. Sorry if I overstayed my welcome in your thought-space with that one. Of course, if you don't like Shosholoza and this particular rendition, don't tell me--not if you don't want to plummet in my assessment of you, that is! Grin. I'm all for diversity and all that, but... Wink. Btw, if you're a Peter Gabriel fan, his rendition of Shosholoza was on the shadow side of his Biko single.  

8/22/09 Hacker Camp?

Have you noticed: fewer and fewer people are entering computer and information sciences undergraduate programs in the US, and of those, the percentage of women has dropped from around 35% when I got into the field, to around 15% today. Given that I am very often the only woman in the room, I have been (hyper?) sensitive to the latter. The slice of the pie that represents women has dropped more than 50%, but the pie is getting smaller too! I was wondering if the same phenomenon that is causing the numbers of women in computer and information sciences to drop so alarmingly, is also causing the numbers of men to drop. To put it another way, are we moving toward a more uniform profile within computer science, and is that what is reducing the pie?

Many (most?) young men entering CS programs have been hacking computer games for approaching a decade by the time they enter university. Indications are this puts young women off, because they don't have that background. The remedy many have turned to, is to make playing, modifying and creating computer games more appealing to girls (like Storytelling Alice). When I was drawn to computer science, it was broadly recognized that other skills (language, communication, analysis, mathematics, statistics) were just a critical to software development as learning programming languages, algorithms and code idioms, database techniques, etc. This was true for Dana too, and indeed one of the founders of the Department of Computer Science at IU had a chemistry background.

Things have changed. Complexity has increased, and so an entry-level competence in computer tech/networking and software development that is a raised bar makes a certain kind of sense. Analogously, you wouldn't expect to get into a music program as an undergrad if you hadn't been taking music for many years already. But if we make computer game playing and hacking a prerequisite, don't we lose young men as well as young women? Can our field stand to suffer that loss? How do we broaden the appeal of computer science?  And shouldn't we, instead of getting more kids to play and hack games, provide introductory programming classes that help freshmen get comfortable with programming? After all, in many other fields, women and men are learning to develop very complex systems--take computation fluid dynamics software applications (talk about visualization!), for example--who does that? Not computer scientists but mechanical and aeronautical engineers!  Software, even very complex software, isn't the sole province of those with a computer science degree (or degrees).

If software is going to be the growth field we expect, we need to think in terms of bringing in a more diverse set of people. Don't look to the game hackers and see if we can broaden the appeal of game hacking--only. My son and daughter are off to a good start hacking games written in Python, and I'm all for it! But I don't want to pretend that the field will only benefit from a select niche of hacker types. Indeed, if we freeze out people "like me" we'd have ... less creativity in the field. Grin. People like me? I programmed for economic gain--working a sideline moonlighting code shop--while my peers were playing computer games like Dungeons and Dragons through the night... I never understood the Pacman fetish. But that was only because I had more fun writing "useful" (I had customers who would pay for it) code.

Well, anyway, I think it is an interesting question to pursue. Are we so focused on the most apparent problem (very few if any women and minority groups in software circles) that we are overlooking a bigger homogenization problem in our field?

Because if we drive our field into a wedge of personality types and childhood hobbies, we will not only diminish entrants to undergrad programs in our field, but put off software developers who got their coding feet wet in other disciplines. Many of the outstanding software architects I've worked with, started their careers as civil/structural engineers, business majors, various engineering streams, math majors, philosophy majors, and on and on.

It is worth noting, too, that Asia doesn't have the problem we have with gender skew in our computer science disciplines. If diversity is going to be a bigger and bigger a factor in system development, either because it plays a role in innovation or because it opens up a field to larger numbers of people, then we have to address this issue.

8/23/09 Archman... Inching Along

My "Archman explains the role of the architect" sketchbook is inching along...  I really need to send it to RIP or finish it! But... life intervenes. I have new course material to develop (I'm very excited about the new building blocks we're putting together), a paper and a book to work on, and feedback to get to several architects.

Of course... I'm very hurt that no-one has remarked on the incredibly pithy way I've conveyed key insights about architecture and architecting in the archman sketchbook. At the very least you could commend my ingenuity in weaving a story of "what and why and how" out of a meager set of pre-existing sketches! If you have no taste for droll, what are you doing here anyway? ;-) 

Oh, don't worry to be kind. Somebody else will. Perhaps. Maybe. Someday. Yes, no doubt someday. If you wait long enough, kind Daniel will feel beholden to act for the field once again, and be the one to say something nice and encouraging. Grin.  

8/23/09 and Visualizing... Inching Along

And I'm still storyboarding my visualization walk-though. Here's a glimpse--this page obviously appears early in the sequence:

Vision graphics (by David Sibbet of The Grove and Chritina Merkley of MakeMark.com)

Clipping--uh, I mean promoting--other people's work makes for a pretty visual, doesn't it? Well, I hope they don't mind--I do give them credit. And it does make for a more persuasive presentation of group graphics/graphical facilitation charts than my poor sketching. :-)

The National Semiconductor Turnaround Case Study (.pdf) that the vision chart in the image above comes from, is well worth studying (David Sibbet's perspective and talent is unique). The Visa History is also interesting. It:

"... illustrates eight layers of information. From the top, which show external evens coming in, it includes marketing messages in talk balloons, products as credit card pictures, the main revenue line, internal organizational projects as arrows, system improvements and foundational layers, international offices as additional foundational arrows, and big eras." -- David Sibbet, Visa History

Here is David Sibbet introducing Context Mapping graphically facilitated group discussion. And The Grove's Cover Story vision.

Here's a neat quote to motivate (personal or project) visioning through counter-positioning:

“What keeps you going isn't some fine destination but just the road you're on, and the fact that you know how to drive.” -- Barbara Kingsolver

In other words, you better think about which road to get on before you start driving! It's that code is not the grail, value is the grail, and we need to have a sense of the value propositions we seek before we start driving.

To see the power of visual expression, this James Durno sketch is (more than just) cute! And this time lapse video of a wall mural/graphic map being created is--let's hear it--inspiring! Grin. I'll accept none of that "I can't draw" from you. I included my herding cats sketch in my Archman sketchblog as a protest (you may remember, it earned a "bad artists make good herderz" tweet) and a statement--you may not be a Picasso, but the neat thing is: you're probably better than you think you are, and you're surely better than I am!

The Grove in Second Life: You can do it! Draw that is.I set the bar nice and low; isn't that just so public-spirited of me? Grin.

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Pablo Picasso

If you want some help freeing your inner artist, or something like that, The Grove has remedial training that helps overcome inhibitions about "just doing it." In their Galleries in Second Life, The Grove have devoted a display area to the work they do teaching a "graphic keyboard," sketching and large-wall-chart paper-handling techniques.

Since I went back to grab an image from their "help you get comfortable expressing yourself visually" gallery to show you, I thought I'd swing around and pick up a better image of this (below) "working with metaphor" poster. The only way to see it is from the outside, so it's not that I was too shy to go in. Anyway, The Grove has always been empty whenever I've visited any of their spaces. Perhaps everyone is on vacation in RL...

The Grove in Second Life: working with visual metaphor

8/24/09 Quality On The Radar

"CISQ will bring together industry executives from Global 2000 IT organizations, system integrators, outsourcers, and package vendors to jointly address the challenge of standardizing the measurement of IT software quality and to promote a market-based ecosystem to support its deployment, CISQ officials said. One of CISQ’s earliest objectives will be to develop an industry standard that provides the detail necessary to automate the measurement of quality attributes."

Software Quality has a New Name, eWeek, August 20, 2009

8/24/09 Preserving Software

Grady Booch's predawn post (apparently this stuff keeps/gets him up at night) today, voiced concern about what happens to the Flight Simulator code.

Here's the back-story:

"On January 22, 2009, it was reported that the development team behind the franchise was being heavily affected by Microsoft's ongoing job cuts, with indications that the entire Microsoft Flight Simulator team was laid off. Microsoft confirmed the closure of the ACES studio on January 26, 2009 in a post on the official FSInsider Web site. The article, "About the Aces Team," states in part:

This difficult decision was made to align Microsoft’s resources with our strategic priorities. Microsoft Flight Simulator X will remain available at retail stores and web retailers, the Flight Sim community will continue to learn from and encourage one another, and we remain committed to the Flight Simulator franchise for the long term.

According to former ACES employee Phil Taylor, the shutdown was not due to unfavorable financial results of FSX, but due to management issues and delays in project delivery combined with increased demands in headcount, at a time that Microsoft was attempting to lower costs...

There is an ongoing petition for Microsoft to preserve the integrity of the Flight Simulator franchise and ensure the future of Microsoft Flight Simulator development, with over 7,900+ signatures as of August 2009."  -- wikipedia, 8/24/09

I've made the following point before, but I'm sure only I remember that, so I'll repeat myself:

"Even as architecture consultants, we get to see fewer architectures in a lifetime than works of art in a day at a good art museum."  on the Bredemeyer site, 2/2002

This is not just a matter of preservation! This is a matter of having real industrial strength artifacts to learn from! Wouldn't you love to pour over the architecture and take dives into the code for Flight Simulator? I sure would. And I'd love to take Ryan spelunking in FS code, though I'd like a map... And that goes to the heart of the issue, doesn't it?

Is there a (current) "map" or description of the architecture? What state is the FS code base in? They mention management issues and delays... and increased demands for headcount...

But what sort of history was kept? Were early versions of the code tree preserved? Like Combat FS? Are older versions in better shape, just because time and complexity tend to compound technical debt...?

Grady wrote:

"There are a number of fascinating things to tackle as we collect: how does one present, how does one classify, how does on tell the story, how does one reveal the inner beauty of these objects that spring from human cognition and have no material manifestation other than their operation and some source lines of code?"

One thing that occurs to me as I read that is -- this isn't so different than many other fields. What goes on inside, under the covers, has to be visualized and explained visually and with words, simulation, math, formulations of some kind. Even a car engine, which we can see from the outside and see pre-assembled as parts, has to have cut-away models, mock-ups, simulations, diagrams, and more to explain the internal mechanisms of a working engine. And to design and improve the internal mechanisms. Make your architecture come alive

Visualization is the key. And thanks in great part to Grady, we have the UML:

"The more I use the UML the more I believe in it's potential and importance as a lingua franca of information technology. I am a true UML advocate. It is, quite simply, one of the most important technologies in the history of humankind."  -- Dr. Darren, http://www.webel.com.au/uml 

That is the answer to Grady's question, isn't it? If we had the architecture, not just the block diagram but the models and descriptions and explanations, justifications, in all the glowing richness of a story that wants to be read, we'd have a good part of the "what else," beyond the system in operation and the source code (listings).

If we had that, if we had the source and the binaries and the architecture (the kind that comes alive) for software systems our field reveres, it would not just be a place that preserves relics of our past (that too, and that is important). It would be a lively place where up-and-coming architects go to study what has gone before. To learn. To repeat and improve upon.

So what about systems for which this does not exist? If we passed around the hat to fund an archeological dig to scrape off and make visible the architecture for something like FS, would you chip in? I would--I'd even give my time! We simply need to have some of these things in the public space! And a delight exemplar like FS would be primo!

8/25/09: In other words:

  • it's not only about preserving for future generations; having these systems accessible to the current generation is a big deal; and the better we do at making this a place full of vitality for the current generation, the more interesting and accessible it will be to future generations

  • visualization (UML models--from informal to detailed, and stories, explanations, motivations, etc.) is key to having a presentation that is full of vitality. It is not just the code. It is the architecture/design of these systems that must be preserved, or we have little hope of understanding/navigating these ever bigger code sets.

When these systems are axed, do their architects become more willing to pour discretionary time into giving their contribution longevity? In other words, are they more willing to sit down and write the illustrated story, or be interviewed, to capture the story on video for the exhibit (than when they were embedded in schedule crunch after schedule crunch keeping the system alive)?? Likewise with developers of key architectural mechanisms and algorithms?

Warning: Leaky thoughts; flash floods

We have two standards for the expression of these systems--the programming language and the visual language =d= UML. Beyond those standards, should the architects be invited to design the expression of their work for the benefit of current and future generations? They have the most to gain from making it exciting and vivid and long-lasting! And their unique style would give each exhibit character and individual flavor. ... so instead of deciding on a uniform way to present the systems, rather have advice and resources on hand, but give the architect and developers of the system considerable freedom to present their work in a way that best reveals what they are proud of??

I do have leaky thoughts, don't I? Bother!

8/26/09 More Technology Waves

Such tension in our times! Fiscal restraint too late, and people I care about are getting the rug pulled out from under their feet! Not enough fiscal restraint going forward, and we get into an economic crisis that makes this one look like a heyday! We've dug a deep hole of debt, and the only way out is to innovate and create must-have delight exemplars--that is, we needs must expand the economy! As far as delight goes, it looks like Nokia will be giving Apple a run for their money. There is a world of opportunity, and a world of competition going after that opportunity.

Daniel Stroe mentioned the Beagleboard, and that his took more than a few days to arrive, which hopefully means overwhelming order volume. It sure looks neat--and it rings my nostalgia bells. :)  Linux is pushing innovation out to the individual, making it cheap to experiment. Mass innovation is helping to drive mass individualization. And the myriad waves of change mass.

Besides creating delight exemplars to entice consumers--exciting dollars right out of tightly clenched wallets, we need to fundamentally re-architect, re-engineer, and redeploy our production, consumption and retirement into new use cycles. These two thrusts ought to power us out of the doldrums, right?

Perhaps we could viral a "5 exciting tech toys I'm going to buy today" to get the economy spun up so people I care about get re-employed? The Beagleboard goes right to the top of my list! It would be cool to introduce the kids to tech the way we were introduced to tech--DIY! You see, dads just buy toys. Moms buy toys "for the kids." ;)   Wouldn't that be a more exciting and worthwhile pyramid to grow than "25 things you don't care to know about me"? Or "my top 10 music picks per decade." I mean, the last is kinda neat in a social studies sort of way. But we've got an economy to rev up here!

Just for my edification--how many of your BI dashboards have environmental sustainability meters? Is environmental impact--and progress on reducing impact and repaying the environmental debt--being made visible at the highest levels? Do leaders in this area get "green credit" from consumers? And employees? We should make it so, shouldn't we?

8/26/09 Don't Believe!

Daniel Stroe wrote this the other day:

"...the human capacity to adapt which consists in mind’s ability to simulate realities, to dream. This synthetic ability has to be guided, and there is a medicine against the illusions, it requires a constant mind repositioning to shade new angles and perspectives to the issues. Find a spin and it will feed a fresh light for a while (there are infinite things to know and there is limited life to learn)."

-- Daniel Stroe, Don't believe the obvious!, 8/23/09

I love the insights and the way they're presented! Adaptation in human cycles is sped up well beyond pure Darwinian evolution because we can simulate realities--do that thought experiment thing, imagine, dream, or, if we're a dour pragmatist, simply project. And we can mentally test those simulations, throwing questions at and viewing our synthetic reality from different angles, seeing it in different lights. And it is worth remembering to invite others to view and challenge the ideas, seeing them from new perspectives. Moreover, we can prototype and test market them. When they're ideas for products. Or personal philosophies.

Of course, that is what I meant by the mirror I hold up. But it is flawed. I'm not an objective observer, and much as I try to view ideas in different lights (this journal, for example, is a good prism), I'm fallible. Indeed, I'm probably more fallible than the next person, because I think I try to take that medicine against illusion! Which gets us right back to:

Don't believe everything you think!

 

 

 

8/27/09: Daniel thanked me for my echo, reminding me again of Seamus Heaney's Personal Helicon.

"Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it."

That, to me, is both the joy and the Grace of collaboration. The new music. I don't presume to imply new to anyone else! Only that the boundaries of my thinking are kept permeable by engaging with others' thinking.

This does call to mind... when we work on "influencing without positional authority" awareness and skill building in the Architectural Leadership workshop, we remind people that echoing what we hear--not as an obsequious/annoying parrot, but communicating "I hear you, I understand and I'm engaged with what you're saying"--helps to build rapport. Rapport builds relationships which are conduits for influence. Not to manipulate in a Machiavellian way, but to influence and be influenced in that dance of collaboration that makes boldly better things possible! 

8/26/09 Spelunking

A luminous scout pointed me (us) to:

It is both a code visualization pointer and a reaction to my desire to take Ryan spelunking in Flight Simulator code. And perhaps a gentle reminder that as we get better at code visualization, we're less dependent on the architect(s) and development team to guide us to the beauty in their code. If this was a hint, it was subtle. But I'm not impervious to subtlety! We have a fair distance to go though, before design intent is extractable from the code. We do get a rough map from code visualization tools, and that's certainly way better than nothing! It'd make a great interactive exhibit, don't you think--the source to classic systems, and spelunking tools. :-) Is there an architect or developer who wouldn't be jazzed about having that on tap? Well, it's a big world, so you could no doubt rustle up an exception--if you worked at it. :-)

8/27/09 No Permalinks... but

If you are desperate to share a quote on your blog or to point colleagues to a particular section of my journal—just copy the shortcut from the topic link in the sidebar. The topics (listed under the links to past months) match the section title. It's clunky, but it works. I did say the necessary condition was "desperate."

The number of "unique visitors/month" to this site is at a new high for the year, surpassing the number it had reached prior to my slamming the lid down on it back in March. So, visits are climbing, people view more than one page, spend longer, and come back (!!), and yet no-one is recommending this journal... What is that about? No-one wants to fess up to needing a soporific? Hey, my dentist says 74% of people are sleep deprived. He thinks he has the answer. But he hasn't read my journal. Grin...

Well... while I think about my role and goals, I do just have to capture this thought about direction setting...

8/27/09 Code for Where to Go

BDUF has fallen out of favor in many software circles. Still, some DUF (just enough) is essential and even DAWG (design as we go) champions are coming around to the position that strategic (in a differentiating value propositions sense and in a technical strategy sense) direction needs to be set up front. Dana was helping Sara look for sources for a research project she is doing on the food dance of bees, and came upon this article: dancing bees speak in code. A scout bee finds a food source, and comes back to the hive where it does a dance that is code for what direction (relative to the sun) and how far away the food is. The dance viewers then fly to the vicinity of the food source, and once there do their looping to find the food. ciaoA metaphor perhaps?

So, we need to learn the waggle dance!

Speaking of waggle dance, we went to the college premier of The Rockae at IU tonight. Greek myths and hard rock go well together! Along the lines of "when it rains it pours," Dana has been reading the Greek myth-inspired Percy series by Rick Riordan with the kids. Sara is totally into Greek myths as a result. All this myth and mirror stuff, and the peak in visitors to my journal, lends itself to... considering my next experiment...

Rick Riordan knows how to do self-effacing humor!

8/28/09 NPR is Hiring Architects!

NPR has two software architect positions open in Washington DC. I'll post the listing on the Bredemeyer Consulting site today. Applications are accepted through  www.npr.org/about/jobs.

8/28/09 Measuring Success

What is the value of (explicit) architecture? How do we make our successes with architecture visible? What are the desired outcomes, and how is progress towards these outcomes measured and made visible?

Right, mostly they're not. Mostly we rely on the stories that are told. The attitude of the business towards IT that is transformed when business and IT work in a close and enabling partnership. We could make this measurable, but who does?

And what about the operations group? System issues will ultimately impact business, but the operations group has first visibility into how well the system is doing relative to most *ilities in production. To what extent are metrics collected from "system health monitoring" and passed back to the development team?

And the development team? To what extent is developer work satisfaction and productivity tracked? What about measures of structural erosion or technical debt (indirect measures will come from system health monitoring, but measuring during production is late in the game)?

Who measures how long it takes new developers to come up to speed on an undocumented system, and how long it takes with a well presented set of architecture artifacts?

Generally we don't measure these things. We simply rely on reasoned arguments about the value of architecture.

"... The blind may not be able to see that an architecture is good, the believers find it obvious, and metrics will not help the blind to see or to make believers more (self-)critical." -- personal email, Gerrit Muller, 4/26/07

But from time to time, we come across an architecture practice that is quite systematic about measuring. Not the architecture specifically. But the key desired outcomes. If environmental footprint is a concern, areas of impact are identified, goals are set, and progress towards those goals is measured and reported to all stakeholders with an impact on that outcome. The value of architects, then, is identified relative to the success the organization has in goal achievement.

Value, success, is context dependent. When someone wants me to give a context-free answer to what I look for as a measure of success, I have to assume they are asking me for generalities about the value of architecture. For any of these generalities, we could set up measures, but to make a reasonable case that we get what we claim, we have to do comparative studies. This is complex, and for what? To achieve our goals. So we're back to being explicit about our goals, and identifying how we can make our progress towards these goals visible, and setting up the measures and the feedback and (re)planning cycles to make sure we attain our goals.   

Monitoring, and using the information it creates, is work. Important, but we want to be strategic about it!

The snip below is from Gentle Action by David Peat. The punchline at the end is the funny takeaway, so if you like fast takeaways skip to the last sentence. I provided the full context, because context informs.

What we measure, though we do so with every good intention, can undermine the value we're trying to create. We need to understand the context, and have a way to prioritize goals across the whole system and its direct and indirect stakeholders.

The people who are asking for metrics, aren't going to be especially comfortable with the response that stories matter. Still, what gets talked about, gets done. What leaders celebrate in the stories we tell, shapes and underscores the values of the community.

Attitude, enthusiasm, stories, all these intangible touchy-feely things can be forceful currents that shape what actually matters and gets attention. I believe we should measure more than we do, but we should also be more aware of the impact of hard-to-measure intangibles that are hugely effective in achieving what we seek from measures--effective and rapid progress towards our goals, and ready adaptation of our goals as our context shifts.

If we can address complexity with a simple response, we need to do that. Stories can be one such simple response.

8/28/09 Resign Patterns

You're no doubt familiar with "Michael Duell's Resign Patterns", but I wanted to keep track of the link. If you haven't seen them, here's a taste to tempt you:

"The Adopter Pattern provides a home for orphaned functions. The result is a large family of functions that don't look anything alike, whose only relation to one another is through the Adopter."

"The Commando Pattern is used to get in and out quick, and get the job done. This pattern can break any encapsulation to accomplish its mission. It takes no prisoners."

"The Chain of Possibilities Pattern is evident in big, poorly documented modules. Nobody is sure of the full extent of its functionality, but the possibilities seem endless. Also known as Non-Deterministic."

Here's another snippet from David Peat in Gentle Action:

"...jokes are often based on upsetting our assumptions about the way the world, or society behaves. In other words, they alert us to rules, and to exceptions to rules..."

8/28/09 Efficacy of Time-boxed Prototyping

The Efficacy of Prototyping Under Time Constraints (by Steven P. Dow, Kate Heddleston, Scott R. Klemmer, Stanford U. CI Group, 2009) is interesting. This is from the introduction:

"Many designers evangelize the value of prototyping, encapsulated in the design adage, “Enlightened trial and error outperforms the planning of flawless intellect.” Prototyping entails repeatedly trying ideas and getting feedback. A canonical prototyping iteration comprises four steps: envisioning possibilities, creating a prototype to embody a possibility, getting feedback about the prototype, and reevaluating constraints. However, time constraints often lead organizations and individuals to focus on realization rather than iteration."

What did they find?

"Participants in the iteration condition outperformed those in the non-iteration condition. ... Notably, participants in the iteration condition without prior task experience performed as well as non-iterating participants with prior task experience."

8/28/09 Oh My My My, A Story to Inspire!

Here's a neat demonstration of the illustrative power of words: Carmen Agra Deedy Spins Stories.

I wish I could do accents like that! I can't even do my own accent! "Which would that be?," you ask. Well, at least you understand the problem a little. Grin. When I hear the Drakensberg Boys Choir say "hè" instead of "hair" I feel "homesick." Even though my son and his friend's band model themselves mainly on blue grass... (Come now, what other genre has as many train songs?) Where is "home"?

Anna Deavere Smith's bull rider (the last) sketch lands... you know, not all that far from home... I mean, consider Donald... ;-)  Her TED Talk is thought provoking, in a challenging kind of way. Something like The Rockae...

8/29/09 Oh My, My My, A New Toy to Try!

By now we all know about the Livescribe Smartpen. But did you know that they did away with the "Gillette model" special purpose paper, and now you can print your own paper? With that change, it jumps onto my "break the recession" tech toy shopping list.

So, we can sketch our UML models using the Smartpen and pull then into a document or wiki without need for a scanner, but who is doing model recognition from hand drawn sketches??? Here's some progress:

I haven't come across a commercial product that does UML diagram recognition from sketches, have you? Please let us know if you have!

As new toys go, Stupeflix is another beta that looks worth taking out for a spin--at least to create voice-over video-photo montage travel-logs for the grandparents, and to record memories for the kids lest something happened to their mu (mom unit) or du. Where does one find the time for good intentions?

8/29/09 Play Time!

8/29/09 The Rockae haunts me...

We don't have an ocean and we don't have mountains, but we have music in this town! The farmer's market brings out an interesting array of ad hoc street artists and it is fun and colorful; today it was a blue grass band who were having so much fun they infected the crowd and a cute little 2 or 3 year old girl went up to dance with them and I wished I had my camera! The self-confidence and unselfconsciousness of the little curly haired moppet was a reminder of how much delightful good there is in this world! And the college-aged band shared the limelight graciously with their little steal-the-show fan.

It's taken me a while, but I have to say, between the forested hills and the music and performing arts programs, I'm coming around to being more conscious that I love living here. I miss the mountains falling into the sea in Moss Beach, and the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. I've enjoyed our island vacations (what's that about--without consciously setting out to do that, our last three vacations have been on islands and not just islands, but volcanic island mountains; a reaction to living in landlocked Indiana?). I love mountains--looking at and from them, or looking out over cliffs and rocks to the ocean. And I love our magical-lush green canopied southern Indiana hills, and our ponds and lakes and rivers that are green with forest reflection. The majestic huge hardwoods; pin oaks that dwarf houses and sing when a breeze blows; dogwood and redbud that herald spring. In the Fall, I love the maple yellow, giving back the sun's glow. And the curvy hills and twisty lanes and hiking paths disappearing into alluring color, beckoning ever on; work forgotten.

I think about this life I love, and simple joys of a little kid dancing to 5 talented youths making rollicking music for an appreciative crowd at the local farmer's market. And I think about all the suffering. The gross crimes, the wars, the abject poverty, the disasters, and the darkness of evil and inequity seems so far and yet so close!

The Rockae haunts me. And it should.

Our beautiful, peaceful, work-enriched lives are highly privileged enclaves and the Heart of Darkness is out there; far and near.

We have some recourse. Here's one avenue for making a difference. And inspiration in the life of a man who battled the insinuating, grasping reach of the dark side, and by example, showed us how to "live out our noblest values":

"Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still."

-- President Obama, Email tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy, 8/26/09


8/29/09 On the Lighter Side

I added these two links (I got a pointer to the first, which points to the second) to the software visualization resource collection:

That's a great example of how fast a sticky message can be viraled around the nerdverse! The Total Eclipse flowchart was posted on August 17th, and picked up on Huffington Post on August 18th. It reached me on August 28. Sorry, it took me a day to get around to posting it. But that's because as soon as I saw the fish-eye format I thought of Rick Kazman, and remembered his work on software visualization. Oops. (That brain almost full thing; I hate it! At the same time, isn't the brain incredible? Thinking "oh how neat, a fisheye/sankey variant of a flowchart" and my mind jumps right to Kazman! I think that would surprise even Rick Kazman, but there you have it. Now, if Google could just do that!!!) So I was scouting down that thread, neglecting to give you a heads up on the total eclipse--of the heart variety. But the timing worked out--a little lighthearted note for the "4 in the morning" crowd. (If you haven't followed my 4am (Rives) link, you owe it to yourself to go there, but... not at 4am! At least, not without headphones.)

8/30/09 Breaking Confining Conception

When Ryan and Sara were in preschool, they often pretended they were in an imaginary land they called "Trainland." This game, to me, was remarkable, because it was an elegant negotiation and inclusion of a little girl's interests and a little boy's. They used this imaginary place to play, and to deal with pain and frustration. Imaginary train friends and protectors, woven around their interests and concerns--trains cared for baby trains, knife-trains (I'm afraid so) kept bad trains on track, trains had adventures, the real and the imaginary woven in story-play that could go on for days. The head teacher in their Montessori preschool classroom told them they could not bring "trainland" play to school! (The Montessori School puts 3 years together in one classroom, so when Sara was 3-4 she was in the same classroom Ryan was in when he was in Kindergarten.) She treated it like it was freaky. Imagination stuff.

And we do that too, don't we? Wash the color in the world out with homogenizing stereotypes. Ideas about how to behave. Ideas like a child's story or hand-drawn sketches don't belong in a paper for IT professionals. Ideas like "architects don't get involved in requirements, except to say what would be high risk."

Well, as you can tell, I like to thumb my nose at stereotypes. Not always, of course! That'd be just too many rocks to push uphill. But where I believe it matters.

And the extent to which the child's story and the hand-drawn sketches have been embraced is a testament to the creativity and fluidity in our field. Which is important, because software is becoming critical to the sensory mechanisms and the central nervous system of our society. We don't want what is possible to be dictated by strongly gated, narrowly confined minds! Do we?

I flout convention with this journal. I write too much. I'm too personal. And I push boundaries. My own. And those of anyone else who dares to venture into this tangled mass of words. I both know why this journal is not recommended and don't. Grin.

The Rockae was performed in a really neat theater at IU that is set up for highly experimental works. I could write paragraphs just about the staging! It was a great production--really innovative. A smallish, intimate theater... and it wasn't full.

There is a tension. How much Narcissus and Dionysus is healthy and essential to the creative spirit? And how much falls over into the dark side that haunts and plagues humanity?

These are hard to answer. Certainly one wouldn't want to recommend something that challenges that line!

Grin.

Those Greeks left us with a powerful legacy. A culture that was willing to explore these issues was a great intellectual culture.

Wink.

Of course, art, intellect and culture have no place in software.

Right...

Knife-trains.

Indeed.

If we don't reflect, we become vacuous and undirected. Too much reflection, and we are paralyzed into inaction; trapped in reflection.

If we don't play, "drink" life a little, we become fragile, the beast boiling within, terrifying when loosed. No restraint... a rude dismissive audience overlaying sexual innuendo on a vivacious Sarah Lacy trying to help a reticent Mark Zuckerberg reveal his vision for sharing stories that transform the world through greater empathy... (the irony!) ... and a little 11 year old girl imprisoned in a labyrinth, her childhood raped and stolen right here in backyard America... (the horror!)

To quote a great hero, quoting a great hero: " "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" "

Loosen up! But not too much. Balance, in life as in architecture, is key.

The line? Yep, you take the test before you learn the lesson. But, see, there'll be more tests. And more lessons. Reflection and action. Restraint and joyfully, exuberantly, throwing ourselves at, and into, life.

Too arty for you? Me too! I'm going to have to put The Rockae behind me!

Grin.

September is going to be a tough month; workshops and deliverables all massed together. If you don't hear much from me... it might be a new lid/experiment thing... and it might be that I'm just busy. ;-)

Goodness, look at the title to this entry, and see how what happened diverged from the intent! Yep, pushing boundaries is dangerous stuff! An hour can go by, and for what? Who cares? Ugh!

Reflection and inaction. Reflection and action. The line.

Hard to draw.

Too arty for you? Me too! I'm going to have to put The Rockae behind me!

The echo. ciao

Ok, ok, I'm going now! Much to do.

Grin.

Hey, perhaps a flowchart would help.

I'm going, I'm going. Really!

Later: Relevance to the architect? Well, this started with Donald. Let's ask him. Grin. Ok, I might go to the punishment theme Donald raises next. But first, to wrap this one up: of what possible relevance is Narcissus? I mean, beyond being a warning to bloggers. What if I say analysis paralysis and tunnel vision? Yes, reflection and becoming so absorbed in the architecture we're modeling in our mind's eye, that we don't test our ideas nor value and integrate the ideas of others.

And Dionysus? Goodness knows! You tell me! Since I can't ask Donald...there's that little thing he does with Fluffy Easter Bunnies... and humor. Oh! Dionysus and humor. Dionysus and a little play time! It turns out maybe we should forget the wine (raises cancer risk?). But how about less rigidity? Less intolerance? More fun. And laughter. Take your bow Donald.

Ciao! Again.

The echo.

8/30/09 Trouble with Wordpress?

The notion that Agile becomes less agile when technical debt is allowed to mount is one of those obvious things that stare you in the face, yet along the lines of "the blindingly obvious blinds," it is hard to get the change in behavior that is needed... So I thought I'd do a service to the world and post my "When Agile Isn't" image below to my blog.

When agile isn't! [technical debt ties the system to the past]

But ... others having trouble with Wordpress...?

8/30/09 Context Maps, in another context

I added a few more pages to my Scotland/England travel-log. When I first "designed" it, I followed my instinct and added the context--the maps that provide the structure for our travels and anchor our memories in spatial terms. I like how it is shaping up. Googlemaps is a wonderful thing (another delight exemplar)! Sure it orients us in the future (planning where to go) and the present (getting there), but now I'm also more aware of how useful it is for anchoring what we did in the past.

Ok, ok, some lessons just don't need to be worked over, and over. Do they? Grin. Not in this audience, but you must recognize that my goal in writing here is to structure and elaborate my thinking. And that takes a lot of work. Apparently.

8/31/09: Scooping up the Past

Back in May I wrote and pulled this next entry--it was too close to the timing of the interaction, and I don't like to write about client interactions in a direct way in this rather in-fact-private, but potentially-public, place. I am reposting it, because some of the "whack-a-mole" we feel is felt by our stakeholders too, and it hurts all round.

5/24/09 Impressions Imprint

A business unit manager we're working with remarked that in software development we have opinionated people who speak their mind once, and if you don't get on board, they discount you as an idiot and tune you out. Early vision and strategy work is fairly fragile, from the point of view that there is a lot of uncertainty and people have to feel safe to explore opportunity, knowing that some of the paths of investigation will not pan out. So this senior manager wants to protect her domain experts, while they are in this delicate fuzzy front end, from these arrogant, willful technologists. It is rather unfortunate that the mean behavior of a few, has colored the view people outside software too often hold of us. Yes, it takes all kinds of people to create great software systems, and some of them, through the twists and turns of life, have taken on a facade that is, or seems, arrogant and willful, while many "play well with others." Typically (at least in my broad, though admittedly not universal, experience), architects are pulled from the "plays well with others" set. Yet the hostile behaviors of the few leave an organizational imprint, and doors close...    

If you talk to the software people in question, you get other points of view, like "they never trouble to understand the challenges we face" and so on. I think this kind of thing falls under what Charlie Alfred calls "conceptual distance." When arrogance is the framing reaction, though, it becomes a bad case of conceptual dissonance!

The architect is not just there to fend off all the political crud that flies at the development team. The architect also needs to project an amenable bridge between the interests of the business and the interests of the development team (and broader technical community). Not (insufferable) arrogance. Perhaps some humor. Certainly accessibility.

8/31/09 Software Architecture Documentation

 

Feedback: If you want to rave about my journal, I can be reached using the obvious traceinthesand.com handle. If you want to rant, its ruth@traceinthesand.ru.cz. Just kidding, 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 commit to using what you teach me, to convey it as best I can, help your lessons reach as far as I can spread them. I try to do this ethically, giving you credit whenever I can, but protecting confidentiality as a first priority.  
 

Topics from the current month are listed down the sidebar (after the archives and before the blogroll). For those who decry my lack of permalinks because you are desperate to share a quote on your blog or to point colleagues to a particular section—just copy the shortcut from the topic link in the sidebar. It's clunky, but it works. I did say the necessary condition was "desperate."

 Dressing up or dressing down...
 

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