Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Best Software Writing 1 excerpts

I told you I'd share my research on API (Application Programming Interface) design, testing, and promotions to developers. Books and blogs provide peepholes into the developer community's culture, interests, and needs. I love it when the information is not only enlightening and immediately useful, but is also well written and funny.

Even home computer users, gamers, and eBay fans can benefit by knowing a little more about the folks who make the web, its sites and services, its functions and applications.

Like these gems of wisdom from the book Best Software Writing 1, selected and introduced by Joel Spolsky (Apress, 2005). Also see Joel on Software blog.


(1) "Too often we developers think of great change as requiring discrete, atomic, massive events that stand out as a fork in the road. We envision corporate mandates, industry inititatives, an onslaught of PR releases, and carefully staged power point presentations as the only tools of change.

But like plate tectonics and evolution, great and enduring changes are also possible through purposefully directed actions in a small sequence of steps."

-- Eric Johnson, "C++ The Forgotten Trojan Horse", p.133

(2) "I've found that people who are great at something are not so much convinced of their own greatness, as mystified at why everyone else seems so incompetent."

-- Paul Graham, "Great Hackers", p. 107

(3) "That is what is most painful about a new medium: how much the work is about the medium itself.

Weblogs are a pure example: there is a significant percentage of weblogging that is about weblogging, as people figure out what to do with the new forms, much as when people, faced with a microphone, will say 'I am talking into the microphone, hello, on the microphone, me, hey, microphone. Microphone. Me. Hey. Me. I'm here. Talking. Hi there, on the microphone. That's me, talking.

Please check out my blog.'

...eventually people will realize the value of saying something besides 'I am saying something'."

-- Paul Ford, "Processing Processing", p. 92

(4) "The internet has one overarching feature that makes it superior to the technologies that preceded it: it can copy arbitrary blobs of data from one place to another at virtually no cost, in virtually no time, with virtually no control. This is not a bug. This is what the internet is supposed to do."

-- Cory Doctorow, "Save Canada's Internet from WIPO", p. 56

"Weblogs are relatively flame-free, because they provide little communal space. In economic parlance, weblogs solve the tragedy of the commons through enclosure, the subdividing and privatizing of common space.

Every bit of the weblog world is operated by a particular blogger or group of bloggers, who can set theri own policy for accepting comments, including having no comments at all, deleting comments from anonymous or unfriendly visitors, and so on.

Furthermore, comments are almost universally displayed away from the main page, greatly limiting their readership. Weblog readers are also spared the need for a bozo filter. Because the mailing list pattern of 'everyone sees everything' has never been in effect in the weblog world, there is little opportunity for anyone to hijack existing audiences to gain attention. Even comments appended to a particular weblog post are seen only by a minority of the readers of the post itself."

-- Clay Shirky, "Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software", p. 216


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