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re: Out of everything you've seen or read, what had the biggest impact on your life as a developer? VIEW POST

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Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari's magnum opus Capitalism and Schizophrenia (I'm still working through volume 2, 1000 Plateaus -- it's incredibly dense stuff) has had an enormous impact on how I think generally, to say nothing of its applicability to software development. D&G discuss the construction of communication, psychology, and politics in terms of machinic assemblages and operations, developing models from the bottom up in a counterpoint to the top-down imposition of structure and taxonomy which characterizes Western philosophy and sociology from Aristotle through Levi-Strauss.

Since, per Mel Conway, we are condemned to reproduce the communication structures of our organizations in our software architectures, a methodology for reducing those communication structures to localized patterns within the broader organizational context of human society gives us a much wider view of what's possible. Some of the concepts they explore are already visible in the technological sphere: the rhizome they discuss in 1000 Plateaus can be recognized in many distributed systems, for example.

 

I find it amazing that so few people who work in communication have any knowledge about semiotics and related fields.
Your comment is very refreshing and I hope it sparks in others the curiosity to step across domains, which is actually the best way to pump clean blood into the arteries of creativity.
I usually say to people around me (often out of the blue): if you want your children to be successful, have them learn math and philosophy. The rest will fall in place.

 

I discovered last month that there are people who know that what they want to know about is semiotics but not that semiotics itself exists! It was really a lucky find for me too, through reading & liking Kafka, Borges, Calvino, and so forth; as far as I know, if you learn about anything in that vein in college you've already specialized in the critical humanities.

Though I've been a programmer on-and-off for more than 20 years, my whole college education was in design, in a context very much influenced by art, semiology and media studies. To tell you the truth, the humanities have too much semiology. But tech has none. And it makes a huge difference because the mindset is different. And that difference shows on the two most important aspects of one's work:
1) Doing the right thing (what the users need)
2) Doing things right (coherent architecture)

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