A Canvas for Thought

March 15, 2007

The Lore Masters

Filed under: Uncategorized — vednis @ 2:23 am

I came across Pragmatic Programmer Dave Thomas’ presentation “Herding Racehorses, Racing Sheep” while surfing the conference list for QCon.

The entire slide show is fascinating, but the slide about the fourth stage of skill development caught my eye. Dave mentions maxims as a teaching tool used by those who have attained fourth stage skills. This struck a chord with me and fits well within my experience. For example, career consultant Markus Buckingham uses maxims to great effect.

My wife and I are fond of a particular maxim:

Trust Children.

There are a number of maxims in the software world as well. They guide the design of any and every routine within a particular system. Some examples:


Explicit is better than implicit.

From the Art of Unix Programming:

  • Fail as early as possible.
  • Always do the least surprising thing.
  • K.I.S.S.

Don’t repeat yourself.


Release early, release often.

One point to note: practioners at the lower levels in the Dreyfus Model don’t necessarily understand or apply the maxims created by those at a higher levels.

I wonder what implications that has for the Ruby and Rails communities, give their surge in popularity? Or the fact that a lot of developers will be coming to the language with pre-existing maxims to guide them? The Python community may offer some insight here, as the effects of pre-existing maxims is well-known to them. (You can tell when a Java programmer has written Python code. It looks… different.)

But hey, we all had to start somewhere.


1 Comment

  1. Thanks for blogging about QCon! I just wanted to let you know that we quoted and linked from this entry on the over all QCon 2007 blogger’s key takeaway points and lessons learned article: http://www.infoq.com/articles/qcon-2007-bloggers-summary

    Feel free to link to it and of course blogging about this articles existence would help even more people learn from your and other bloggers takeaways.

    Thanks again!


    Comment by diana plesa — March 22, 2007 @ 5:54 am

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