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Essays 1

Session Chair: Richard P. Gabriel, IBM Research
Software Evolution and the Moving Picture Metaphor
Mark Mahoney, Carthage College

Software systems evolve over time. Currently we do not do a good job of documenting this evolution. This essay discusses the need to better document software evolution and introduces the Moving Picture Metaphor. Source Control Management systems are more like collections of still photographs than moving pictures. Still photography is not ideal when trying to capture evolutional changes. Moving pictures do a much better job. A storyteller can use moving pictures to tell compelling stories that are easier to digest than traditional documentation. We can learn a great deal from watching stories that document a systems evolution.

Agile Anthropology and Alexander's Architecture: An Essay in Three Voices
Jenny Quillien, Laboratory of Anthropology
Dave West, Highlands University of New Mexico
Pam Rostal, Perficient

During its formative decades the software community looked twice to the theories of Christopher Alexander for inspiration, both times failing to completely master the architects most useful insights. Now a third opportunity presents itself with Alexanders recent publication, The Nature of Order. Serious apprenticeship, however, imposes a prerequisite of sober self-reflection and evaluation. What, really, is the nature of the developers tasks? Under what philosophical umbrella has the software community matured until now? Do other philosophical traditions offer alternative and perhaps more pertinent epistemologies? What voices, besides Alexanders, might contribute to the communitys evolution? We address these questions along with theory building, ethnography, weak links, design heuristics, agility, and complex systems, all of which combine with Alexanders new theories to suggest different ways of doing what we do, better.

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