Saturday, 07-Aug-10 23:58
Explaining agile through ...cleaning?

Here's a fairly simple way to explain agile programming: When cleaning your apartment, you can either clean it bit by bit so that you keep a reasonable amount of cleanliness all the time - or you can just let it be, and then have big cleaning days.

With the first, agile, method you need to maintain strong discipline and actually make the effort of keeping things clean, even though it isn't fun. The second method, is a lot easier day-to-day, but the cleaning day is usually a source of agony to all participants. Neither method is inherently superior to the other, but they have different advantages and disadvantages.

For example, if you have surprise guests, or your spouse arrives a few hours early (ahem), the agile method of keeping the house clean all the time works well. The house is already in a good shape - just do some dusting and that's it. With the second method, you will find yourself apologizing for your messy apartment many, many times. Or out of laundry detergent just when you need it. On the other hand, the second method works really well if you don't spend a lot of time in the house, and/or if you have contractors, er, a hired cleaner coming in every week.

Agile methods can usually cope with changed plans, schedules and scope - but they require a lot of discipline to maintain, and they're not necessarily fun. The laissez-faire methods may be fun, but they're inherently brittle when it comes to change. Waterfall (=doing lots of planning what to clean before actually doing any cleaning) is usually brittle and NOT fun ;-).

Wednesday, 04-Aug-10 00:36
On changing reality

There's a bit of a public debate here in Finland again: a Green city council Kaisa Rastimo member asked the police to investigate whether a Pirate Party member had broken the law by reposting some comments she did on a public mailing list. She apparently doesn't quite know what the problem is (she keeps hovering between libel and email confidentiality), but asked the police to figure it out anyway.

Ok, so it's kind of fun to laugh at people who don't quite get the Internet. I'm personally kind of pissed at the Green party, who doesn't seem to be able to pull any coherent opinion on these internet things and tends to treat them as matters of conscience more than a party line. Not even individuals in that party seem to be able to form a defensible opinion.

Then again, this internet shit is actually really hard to grasp. Think about it: there is a growing mass of twentysomethings, who have been living on the internet their entire life. They are digital natives. They can build a world-changing service in a weekend (not all of them can pull it off, but some do). They live in two worlds at the same time - in fact, they're one and the same for them. They rewrite reality as they see fit and they LIKE to twiddle with it. They are used to rapid iteration - you build something, you toss it out to the public; if it doesn't work - you change it or abandon completely. Doing, not planning.

In contrast, the politicians talk endlessly, and then they vote, and that's it. No iteration - bugs may get fixed after a long process. The Finnish criminal code - which is still in use - dates from frigging 1889, though obviously it's been patched since. The entire legislation runs on waterfall, but the current generation is growing in complete agile mode. Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook) doesn't care about what the legislation says about privacy - he does it, and if enough people complain, he changes it. That man is one of the most influential people on this planet when it comes to privacy, and whatever politicians talk about it does not matter.

And no, I'm not advocating using SCRUM for legislation - I wouldn't like to be tried under "law 2.0 beta" - but the clock speed difference is real and it's there. As Lawrence Lessig says: "Code is Law". I would even go as far as saying "Code is Reality", since many aspects of our life are now completely dependent on the Code: banks, jobs, communication, traffic... It's everywhere: we almost breathe it. But few people are really, truly aware of it.

And to me it seems that this is what is missing from this whole discussion around "digital property" and DRM and piracy - at least here in Finland: the realization that piracy is not a disease. It is a symptom of something more profound which is happening in the society as we speak, and henceforth any attempt at stopping piracy is about as useful as painting the walls when the house foundations are crumbling: might fool some people all of the time, and all people for some of the time, but the house will still collapse.

The interesting thing is that since it's unstoppable, watching people and corporations kick and scream while they're being dragged into the new age is kinda fun. In 20 years, the 20somethings of today will be in their fourties and start to have major power in corporations and governments. And in 40 years, everybody who gets to make decisions is a digital native, and they'll be fighting their own inability to grasp the changing world.

It just really bugs me that people just paint the walls and try to sell me the house as "fully renovated."

Tuesday, 03-Aug-10 13:59
Nyt vihreät vittu oikeesti

Pitäkääpä se Rastimo nyt kurissa, jooko?

Yksi Rastimo kumoaa yhden Kasvin vaikutuksen, enkä koe enää sopivaksi antaa ääntäni puolueelle, jossa ollaan noinkin pihalla nykyisyydestä - saati sitten tulevaisuudesta.


Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.



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