[plt-scheme] Perplexed Programmers

From: Anton van Straaten (anton at appsolutions.com)
Date: Wed Aug 29 21:20:48 EDT 2007

Shriram Krishnamurthi wrote:
> I hate to spoil a good, old-fashioned flame-fest on the terrible state
> of computing practice, but I have a hard time agreeing with much of
> what I read here.
> To those of you firmly in the negative ("software crisis") camp, there
> are two things you might mean:
> 1. Software is in a terrible state, period.
> 2. Software is in a parlous state relative to the practice of other,
> more mature, engineering disciplines.

I'd say that there's a "software crisis" in the same sort of sense that 
there's a "venture crisis": a large proportion of venture-funded 
companies fail.  In both of these "crises", people are trying to achieve 
specific goals and often failing in various ways, whether totally or by 
falling short of expectations (regardless of whether those expectations 
are reasonable).

The main difference seems to be that in VC world, the failure rate is 
understood and considered acceptable, largely because VCs rely on 
portfolios having hits which make up for the misses, so they're playing 
the odds.

Software doesn't have it so easy.  But because successes do occur, the 
field moves forward over time, just not necessarily in the directions 
that might have been desired or expected.  This process can be hard on 
people in the trenches, on projects that are "failing".

Afaict, a big difference between software and other kinds of engineering 
is that the latter field has learned to deal more realistically with 
expectations, which has to happen all the way up and down the management 


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