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Art vs Science

December 27, 2009

I went on a run this morning and so had time to reflect on the past week or two.  At some point I went through my Christmas checklist:

  • drink too much – check
  • eat too much – check
  • have fervent religious debate – nope!!!

Now as an atheist I am finding it harder and harder to have good religious debates, even at Christmas.  What is one to do, when one loves so much to argue fiercely have a calm open-minded discussion?  Start one yourself!  So here I go: is this thing called Software Development (or Software Production as the marketing guys would like) more Art or Science?

I want your opinion (no I just want an argument) but first you’re gonna get mine.

I’ve come full circle on this: at first I felt it was art, then decided it was probably science, but have since realised it’s a bit of both but more heavily weighted towards art.  When I sit in Visual Studio, or Eclipse, or Blend, or Photoshop – I feel more of an artist with a canvas and a palette than a scientist with a lab and instruments.  It’s creative.  Sure there is some component of known algorithms and simple best practices, but it’s highly creative and inventive.

Whether you are writing device drivers for Linux, a 3D audio rendering engine for WoW, a cost-center P & L accounting report, or an online blogging engine GUI, it is a highly creative exercise.  If it wasnt, we’d get a machine to do it.

Which brings me to the other reason (apart from wanting to argue): this thing – Software Development – is being rebranded as Software Production by the marketing guys because we have invented the assembly line pattern for software as the manufacturing industry did for hardware.  And cars and toasters are not developed on an assembly line, they are produced.  So as a Software Developer Producer I feel that it is taking away my artistic rights and freedoms.  Which as someone who knows that it is an art starts to feel uneasy about it.

Having sat on both sides of the fence – as tools/platforms producer and consumer, I know how important flexibility and openness is to a platform, both pragmatically and emotively to the developers (oh I just can’t call them Producers?) using it.

So to the marketing guys – maybe ‘Production’ needs a second thought, and to the developers – your artistic freedoms are intact and in fact more highly regarded than ever.

Your thoughts?

One comment

  1. […] .NET applications and tomorrow’s virtualized and cloud deployment architectures. « Art vs Science Craftwork versus Art December 27, 2009 I’ve just finished reading Radeks latest […]



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