The Mind of the Maker

Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., in his essay The Mythical Man-Month, refers to Dorothy Sayers' The Mind of the Maker. Sayers divides creative activity into three stages: the idea, the implementation, the interaction.

The idea stage occurs outside of time and space. It represents an ideal of what is to be made. The implementation stage occurs in the confines of time and space and has to come to grips with the limitations of the medium used to realize an implementation. The interaction stage begins when that which is made arrives at the hands of its users.

Brooks notes that the medium of implementation for programming has proved relatively tractable compared to that for other creative work. This tractability, along with the positive, theoretical aspect of the idea stage, Brooks takes to be the sources of over-optimistic estimates in programming projects.

Brooks' other important insight has to do with the simple fact that not all "men" are equal and that not all tasks can be partitioned into perfectly parallel pieces whose accomplishment requires no communication among those who work in parallel. In fact, addition of resources to a project often pushes its delivery date farther back.

Comments:

>"The idea stage occurs outside of time and space."

At risk of starting a flame-war... that sounds a lot like Intelligent Design. ;\^) ;\^)

Fred Brooks obviously favours the 'big bang' model of creativity.

Just kidding.

Posted by Robin Wilton on February 03, 2006 at 03:48 PM PST #

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