Archive for January, 2009

New Perspectives For The Year: Life Is Short, Humans Are Dumb, Careers Are Your Responsibility, and We Need More Heretics

January 30th, 2009

These books set the tone for my perspective in this new year.

A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson) emphasizes that, as humans we rarely know what we're doing – our existence as a species on this earth is a tiny fraction of time, but we continue to kill ourselves while obliterating other species and our environment. This book was also a great reminder that the greatest innovators and inventors are individuals with a burning passion – not individuals with a laundry list of formal qualifications.

The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
(Thomas L. Friedman) argues that, we can't accept complacency in our jobs or careers – the world has changed and you'll be left behind. Bureaucracy on every level may save your job today, but this won't be the case in an increasingly global world. As individuals our careers and future are solely our responsibility – we should be versatilitsts, not specialists.

The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management (Art Kleiner, et el) demonstrate that, most corporations / business / organization don't really know what they're doing (MBA theory is based on the past, and not entirely relevant for the future). Many successful businesses have been run by heretics – people who understood the system around them, then push the limits of these systems to provide more value, innovate, and become successful. Also, that success is almost entirely dependent on people, teams, integrity, honesty, and the relationships that ensue.

The Last Lecture (by Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow), is a sober reminder that living life to the fullest and living a good life are what really matters. Also, that: “engineering isn't about perfect solutions; it's about doing your best with limited resources” – Randy Pausch.

Cheers to another great year as we continue to gaining broader perspectives, seek out a better quality of life, get out and do more things, meet new people, and cultivate existing relationships. :)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Book, Musings, Personal Tags:

Web Standards are Important and Here’s Why

January 26th, 2009

It feels like Web Standards have always just existed, but they’ve only been around since the 90′s. Today, they’re the default for cross-browser compatible web applications. However; some people still like to talk them down – fingers are pointed at ambiguities within the written specifications, imperfections, and various edge cases between browser implementations (most of which can thankfully be resolved through test suites and browser vendor collaboration). Today, if you’re not embracing Web Standards, then you’re missing a bigger point.

The importance of Web Standards lies in its unified language. Web Standards offer a common paradigm, a starting point, they’re intended to be built upon / extended, and (like everything else we’ve created as a species) they’re not perfect. Web Standards and the Object Paradigm (Object Oriented Design / Object Oriented Programming) share these similarities. Eric Evans describes the value of the Object Paradigm to be its widespread adoption, not its technical superiority:

Today, the object paradigm also has some significant circumstantial advantages deriving from its maturity and widespread adoption … Objects are already understood by a community of thousands of developers, project managers, and all the other specialists involved in project work. – Eric Evans, Domain Driven Design

On a similar thought Bill Bryson describes the dark ages of chemistry – before standardized conventions and the periodic table was formed:

chemists for so long worked in isolation, conventions were slow to emerge. Until well into the second half of the century … Chemists also used a bewildering variety of symbols and abbreviations, often self invented … Despite the occasional tidying-up, chemistry by the second half of the century was in something of a mess … [Mendeleyev] began toying with a way to arrange the elements … thanks to Mendeleyev’s invention [the periodic table], chemistry was now on a firm footing. – Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

Today, Web Standards are understood by a community of thousands of developers, designers, project managers, and most of the other specialists involved in web work. Web Standards are our firm footing. Web Standards aren’t about being perfect, they’re about a common language, about working collectively towards (or at least embracing) a goal. Web Standards are here to stay.

* photo courtesy of Andrew Walsh
Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Web Standards Tags:

If You’re Going To Do Something, Do It Right the First Time

January 17th, 2009

During our Domain Driven Design (DDD) book club we had the re-occurring discussion over the fallacies of the one-size-fits-all approach. We discussed how DDD is not the solution to every problem – other approaches like the Smart UI Anti-pattern work great for small one-off projects, teams with limited experience, projects under tight time / financial constraints, etc… However; we also postulated that, if your team has past successes with DDD, then they can be just as productive using DDD while gaining the benefits that DDD can provide.

Our postulation wasn’t earth shattering by any means. Basically we were reiterating that: if you already know how to do it right (or at least righter than the alternatives), then do it right the first time. Developing cross browser compatible web sites using web standards jumps to my mind as another example – a cross browser site is trivial if you’ve had a previous success. This idea extends well beyond software. Experienced professionals like Mike Holmes (from the construction industry) runs his organization (Make it Right) on this very idea.

If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time – Mike Holmes 

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: DDD, Musings, Personal Tags: