Sunday, June 01, 2008

Eye on the Architect Astronauts

My home RSS feed list is pretty varied.

I have the following categories: Tech, Software, Security, Fun, Blogs, Graphics, New Gear, Japan Blogs, Odds & Ends, and Vista.  106 separate site feeds in all.

Most of my daily tech life consists of following Windows based software and hardware.  I really like those that deal with desktop issues and troubleshooting.

I've done some work that could be (at a stretch) considered programming.  However, I am not a programmer.

Last real programming language I worked in was BASIC in high-school when my crowning achievement was programming a visual display on an Apple II to draw a faucet, fill the screen with water, then have a little toy boat float across horizontally.


That said, I make it a point to subscribe to a few RSS feeds of real programmers.  I think it helps provide me a better perspective on supporting software and systems.

So I was reading with curiosity the following post by programmer and cool guy Scott Hanselman:

Professionalism, Programming, and Punditry and Success as a Metric

In it he dropped a new phrase to me: architecture astronomy.

Once years ago when working at a large NW Bank I was in a meeting with a young man who had been hired by a consulting company and had only worked at that one company. He was a "college hire" and had no experience other than "whiteboarding for money." I really don't like to get into measuring contests but I was weak in this instance. I took the bait and said "well, I like to use success as my metric, what have you shipped lately?" It was a nasty room-quieting thing to say and I'm not proud of it. But, I was really frustrated and I didn't know what it was going to take to get it across to this gentleman that we were more interested in shipping software than his brand of architecture astronomy. If you're in college, definitely ship some software or work on some open source applications to get some really good failures under your belt, before you enter the workforce.

So I hopped the links and ended up on Joel Spolsky's awesome blog: Joel on Software.

Turns out Joel has a lot to say about about architecture astronauts.

Don't Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You - Joel on Software

Architecture astronauts take over - Joel on Software

Quoting from that first post:

When you go too far up, abstraction-wise, you run out of oxygen. Sometimes smart thinkers just don't know when to stop, and they create these absurd, all-encompassing, high-level pictures of the universe that are all good and fine, but don't actually mean anything at all. 

These are the people I call Architecture Astronauts. It's very hard to get them to write code or design programs, because they won't stop thinking about Architecture. They're astronauts because they are above the oxygen level, I don't know how they're breathing. They tend to work for really big companies that can afford to have lots of unproductive people with really advanced degrees that don't contribute to the bottom line.

I found his discourse quite illuminating on the goings on regarding software product conceptionalization and the delivery of the actual product in a meaningful way to end-users.

Highly recommended reading for software jockeys and Web world analysts.

It was a neat inside-look at what looks like a messy situation.

Bonus Awesome Post by Joel

Martian Headsets - Joel on Software

A really well-crafted look at Web-standards and coding.  Good stuff here.

Needless to say.  Joel's blog has been added to my RSS feed list.


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