Keith Swenson, Software Architect

  • October 22, 2010
  • Scott

Great blog from Keith on his Q&A on being a Software Architect.  In particular I liked his answers to the last two questions, but I’ll just quote the second-to-last:

3. What advice can you share with others in or entering into this profession?

Prepare to be misunderstood by the public.  Most people mistakenly believe that programming and system architecture is a kind of manufacturing where basic requirements are input, and the code is produced in a left-brained factory-like way.  Software development is more like the fine arts than it is manufacturing.  A great programmer is better compared to Michelangelo than to Henry Ford.  The reason is that every day the software developer creates something brand new that has never been invented before.  Once that puzzle is solved, it never needs to be solved again.  There is no repetition.  Contrary to public perception, software development is an extremely creative, right-brained activity.   The clearest evidence for this dichotomy is that struggle for acceptance of an Agile method for development of software.  Those who understand software development know that an Agile approach is key to good software, but traditionally trained management is very uncomfortable, and want instead to run things like a manufacturing plant.  My advice is to learn everything you can about the Agile approach, and avoid organizations that do not employ it.

I truly wish that journalists would understand that software “engineering” is a creative endeavor.  If journalists understood and wrote about it, I feel confident more non-software-engineers would have a better appreciation for what “programming” really is.  I think if more people understood the creative element, you’d see less “outsourcing” of software development to people you’ve never met or talked to.  You’d want to meet the artist before you commission the work, no?

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