Had a number of comments back to my earlier post asking whether software design was art or science. From the sampling, which was highly self selecting & amongst a number of old friends/acquaintances, there was an overwhelming sentiment that software design is unequivocably art. I also had some more time to think about this stuff, having been very busy with the team in Detroit. Good trip, great getting to meet and spend some time with new associates from OpenText. Also, very glad to be back home!
A strong proponent of good design being analogous to art and art-minded people (well, right-brained anyhow). An interesting observation by Frederick Brooks in “The Design of Design” “the Waterfall Model is wrong and harmful; we must outgrow it.” Like art, design is a non-sequential process that, when done well, requires significant iteration and successive discovery. At the risk of turning this into a book report (I’m liking his book, by the way), he also makes reference to a term he’s coined “conceptual integrity” which refers to a design following a theme/pattern/or message. While these sorts of things can be born out of science and/or nature, they tend to permeate the world of art. (another very weak argument that design is art).
I’m pretty squarely on the side of art, but an art that somehow needs to be harnessed. The discipline of design, and in many cases, maintenance is a craft (art) in which I’ve observed massive variance in people’s abilities and throughputs, even when there’s evidence (similar educational backgrounds, experience) that would point to some inherent aspects that relate to individual’s right side of their brain and abilities to visualize and conceive of valuable creations, much like art.
The big dilemma (for me anyhow, and I’m sure many folks), is that even though this has the qualities of art, there’s an economic imperative to somehow turn it into a predictable science. Herd some cats, anyone?