During the years I spent researching Dreaming in Code, I accumulated a veritable mountain of reading material on the topic of software development, the history of programming, project management and so on. (I even read much, though certainly not all, of it!) There is, plainly, a core set of books, documents and texts that trace the evolution of this subject; I also gathered some unusual obscurities and overlooked offshoots.
Only a small fraction of this material made its way into Dreaming in Code itself, which is a narrative tale of the ups and downs of one project, set in the context of the longer history of the field. I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to share my discoveries, spark some interesting discussion and contribute a lasting resource to the Web based on the work I’ve already done and the reading I continue to do.
Here’s my plan: Every week I’m going to announce a topic — usually, a text or document, in many cases easily accessible online; a week later, I’ll post some thoughts, notes and ideas about the topic, and open the floor in comments for you to throw your two cents in. If all goes well, together we’ll build a handy annotated reading list for curious developers and interested outsiders — and maybe have some fun along the way.
I’m calling this impromptu, informal reading group Code Reads — mostly because we’re reading about code and coding, and also because I like the idea that the phrase induces the slightest hesitation in the reader’s mind (How do you pronounce it — like “code reeds” or “code reds”?), and I’m mischievously pleased to invoke that kind of ambiguity in a conversation about a field that abhors ambiguity.
So: Join me for Code Reads. Here, every Monday.
I’m planning to kick things off next week with some observations about Frederick Brooks’s The Mythical Man-Month — the book that, for me and I think many other students of this subject, really started it all. You’re invited. You don’t have to be a programmer (I’m not one, myself, though I’ve played at being one in previous phases of my life). You just have to be interested in the question that I ask in Dreaming in Code: Why is good software still so hard to make?
Joel Spolsky says that most programmers don’t read much at all: “The majority of developers don’t read books about software development, they don’t read Web sites about software development, they don’t even read Slashdot.”
He might be right. Then again, in my work I’ve encountered many, many developers who are fanatically curious about everything under the sun, emphatically including the history and nature of their own field. I’m thinking some of them might enjoy having this conversation with one another, and with the rest of us.
[tags]dreaming in code, programming, software development[/tags]
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