[plt-scheme] Perplexed Programmers

From: Shriram Krishnamurthi (sk at cs.brown.edu)
Date: Wed Aug 29 21:38:21 EDT 2007

Your analogy is verbally clever, but I don't think it stands up.  VCs
are by definition engaging in high-risk activity.  That's the
(ad)"venture" part.  But one does not think of day-to-day engineering
activities as being high-risk.  The average manager who comissions an
engineering artifact -- whether a factory shed, an engine for a plant,
or a software application -- does not want to feel a frisson of
excitement and sudder of fear as they do so.  These are just meant to
be enablers toward some bigger end.

By the way, I think there are ways in which software is far ahead of
the engineering competition.  When you build a house, it does not come
with several built-in monitors and indices that you can use to easily
tell why it collapsed (if it unfortunately did so), as opposed to
having to reconstruct why painfully and via sophisticated forensics.
But computer scientists have realized that they can and should build
the equivalent of "flight safety recorders", and several such things
are now routinely built into software.  Even DrScheme, which is not
especially sophisticated in this regard, gathers a good deal of useful
(but not personal!) data when you submit a bug report to provide
context for the problem.  This kind of introspective construction is
now considered standard good practice in software, but is hardly the
norm in physical engineering.


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