Category Archives: social-science

On software engineering hermeneutics

When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. Humpty-Dumpty in Alice through the Looking Glass In my recent round of TDD clarifications, one surprising experience is that folks out … Continue reading

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On rational myths

In my research field, one characteristic of institutions is their “rational myths”; ideas that people tell each other are true, and believe are true, but which are under-explored, unverified, and under-challenged. Belief in these myths leads to supposedly rational actions … Continue reading

Posted in academia, social-science, software-engineering | 4 Comments


The web has a weird history with comments. I have a book called Zero Comments, a critique of blog culture from 2008. It opens by quoting from a 2005 post from a now defunct website, The Wayback Machine does … Continue reading

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How UX Practitioners Produce Findings in Usability Testing

The Paper How UX Practitioners Produce Findings in Usability Testing by Stuart Reeves, in ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, January 2019. Notes Various features of this paper make it a shoe-in for Research Watch. It is about the intersection between … Continue reading

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Two ways of thinking

I’ve used this idea in conversations for years, and can’t find a post on it, which I find surprising but there you go. There are, broadly speaking, two different ways to look at programming languages. And I think that these … Continue reading

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Linus’s Bystanders

For some reason, when Eric S. Raymond wanted to make a point about the “bazaar” model of open source software development, he named it after someone else. Thus we have Linus’s Law: Linus was directly aiming to maximize the number … Continue reading

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Is Social Psychology Biased Against Republicans? Pretty interesting, and an often unmentioned aspect of diversity (probably because political leaning is supposed to be a secret in democratic countries, if not because it’s usually acceptable to display ingroup/outgroup bias politically). But … Continue reading

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The Software Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes viewed society as a meta-person, a gigantic creature whose parts were human and which was in the service of those humans. Left to their own devices, people would not work well together as their notion of individualism and … Continue reading

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Software, Science?

Is there any science in software making? Does it make sense to think of software making as scientific? Would it help if we could? Hold on, just what is science anyway? Good question. The medieval French philosopher-monk Buridan said that … Continue reading

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The First Flaw

As she left her desk at the grandiosely-named United States Robotics, Susan reflected on her relationship with the engineering team she was about to meet. Many of its members were juvenile and frivolous in her opinion, and she refused to … Continue reading

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