Mike Hadlow: Heisenberg Developers

Mike Hadlow – Heisenberg Developers (from 2014):

“Software development […] is a creative and experimental process. […] Numerous studies have shown that effective creative work is best done by motivated autonomous experts. As developers we need to be free to try things out, see how they evolve, back away from bad decisions, maybe try several different things before we find one that works.

[…] What about the feature itself? Is it really such a good idea? I’m not just the implementer of this software, I’m a stake holder too. What if there’s a better way to address this business requirement?

[…] As soon as you ask a developer to tell you exactly what he’s going to do over the next 8 days (or worse weeks or months), you kill much of the creativity and serendipity. You may say that he is free to change the estimates or the tasks at any time, but he will still feel that he has to at least justify the changes. The more finely grained the tasks, the more you kill autonomy and creativity.

[…] Good developers are used to doing necessary, but hard to justify work ‘under the radar’, they effectively lie to management about what they are really doing, but finely grained management makes it hard to steal the time in which to do it.”

(Via Rich Rogers.)

Update: See also: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose – My take

Sun, 27 Sep 2015 18:37:00 +0000

Erik Dörnenburg: Architecture without Architects

Today I watched Erik Dörnenburg’s excellent talk Architecture without Architects (recorded in December 2014). Some takeaways:

Erik explains how software “architect” is, in several ways, not a good metaphor. “Town planner” or even “gardener” might be better metaphors, considering that software architecture constantly needs to be adapted and reshaped.

He encourages vertical slicing with room for some experimentation in each slice, and he’s got some nice stories of architecture mistakes and evolution.

To Erik, the software architect is an experienced developer who can guide other developers, not making the rules but asking the right questions: “Interesting idea! I thought the same thing five years ago – and then that happened. Did you consider that?”

Highly recommended if you’ve got an hour to spare.

Wed, 16 Sep 2015 21:22:00 +0000

Looking forward to the International Newsroom Summit in Hamburg

I don’t travel much, so I’m extra happy that the publishing industry (where most of our customers are from) is going to meet in our home town this year: The WAN-IFRA World Publishing Expo 2015 (Twitter: #WPE15) takes place in Hamburg, Germany from October 5-7.

Our company Digital Collections is exhibiting (booth 1.415), but I hope not to spend too much time at the booth because I want to attend the International Newsroom Summit (Twitter: #Newsroom15) that takes place on Monday October 5th as part of the Expo.

I’m especially looking forward to the Newsroom Summit session “Finding Relevant News Faster” with Michael Steidl (IPTC), Dave Compton (Thomson Reuters) and Robert Schmidt-Nia (dpa mediatechnology). Read their excellent “sneak preview” blog post Tags and the secrets to managing information flows into your newsroom; they’ll talk about state-of-the-art news metadata and Linked Data. The “Reimagining your archive” talk sounds interesting as well, see the Newsroom Summit programme.

Will you be in Hamburg as well? Get in touch if you want to meet!

Mon, 07 Sep 2015 09:20:00 +0000

Counting word frequency using NLTK FreqDist()

A pretty simple programming task: Find the most-used words in a text and count how often they’re used. (With the goal of later creating a pretty Wordle-like word cloud from this data.)

I assumed there would be some existing tool or code, and Roger Howard said NLTK’s FreqDist() was “easy as pie”.

So today I wrote the first Python program of my life, using NLTK, the Natural Language Toolkit. With the help of the NLTK tutorial and StackOverflow. I’m sure it’s terrible Python and bad use of NLTK. Sorry, I’m a total newbie.

Read the full article…

Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:53:00 +0000