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At 01:56 PM 9/16/2002 -0400, Mike Champion wrote:
>Joel Sapolsky's rhetorical excesses aside, I think his point needs
>to be carefully considered. The architecture of products we use
>year in/year out tend to evolve from the experiments of individual
>craftpeople rather than being handed down by the Intelligent Designer.
>"Architecture" can be the art and science of figuring out the
>enduring principles of things that actually work, rather than
>building abstractions that can live only in the rarefied air of
But when you study what the "things that work" have in common, the result
is an abstraction. For instance, a design pattern is an abstraction that
came from looking at a whole bunch of code that solved the same problem in
the same way. I think it's OK to have designers, they are allowed to be
intelligent, use abstractions, and think.
As for "abstractions that can live only in the rarefied air of pure
thought", Joel is saying that SOAP is a shining example, and that's the
central point of his article. I think that may mean that he doesn't quite
get it yet - normal people really can learn what SOAP does, and I think
that it's a lot easier to explain than many of the earlier technologies
Joel seems to prefer.
Most people will agree that useless theory is useless, and useful theory is
useful. Most of us will also agree that the best work is done by "people
like me", but what "me" means depends a lot on the person who is speaking.
Since most people don't do their work at a very high level of abstraction,
it's easy to assume that the people who do just don't get it, because they
aren't like us. All this rhetoric is pretty much meaningless, and doesn't
prove anything one way or another.