We've discussed the Mythical Man-Month concept, where adding more developers to an already late software project tends to slow it down even more. It's an important concept that's often quoted, but not often followed by management. It appears that Scott Rosenberg has written up a new book that picks up where the Mythical Man-Month left off, looking at how software development is still a complete mess. Specifically, he focuses on Mitch Kapor's Chandler Project, which has taken years to not get very far. However, the point is that almost all software development seems to be an incredibly messy and unorganized process -- leading to all sorts of problems both in planning and in implementation of any particular software product. Basically, as much as it's called "computer science," it really isn't much of a science. It's hardly even a process. I recently had a chat with someone who had switched jobs from one big company with a reputation for extremely complex and buggy software to one that had a reputation for very clean software. He talked about how he thought he'd learn so much at the new company, only to realize that the development process there was just as messy (in some cases, even messier). Rosenberg makes a few interesting points, about how hardware improvements have followed Moore's Law, while it seems like software has almost been dragged along by accident -- though, perhaps a more accurate way of looking at things is that the hardware improvements of Moore's Law have actually allowed us to hide the problems of software development by simply throwing more horsepower at things. No matter what, it sounds like an interesting book that will probably ring true to many software developers.
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