Sunday 30 May 2010

The Wandering Book

A while ago, Enrique, set up the Wandering Book as a means of capturing the zeitgeist of the software craftsmanship movement. The idea is that a moleskine notebook wanders between people who think of themselves as members of this community. These people then have a week to contribute some useful insight before passing it on.

I'm guilty of taking significantly longer than a week before passing it on. My contribution is below.

What have you made recently?

Whenever software craftspeople gather that's one of the questions I'd like us to ask each other. I'd also like us to ask:
  • what are you making?
  • what do you want to make next?
  • what have you learned from the things you made?

These are some of the questions that get to the heart of what we do.

We make software: code, databases, user interfaces, etc. We do it all. We may not be able to match the experts in each domain but we can make complete software all on our own.

I'm not talking about the artefacts of your day job or the things your team built. I'm talking about things that matter enough to you, that you created them in your own time and for your own reasons. These things you choose to make define the borders of your craft.

Even though I firmly believe that deliberate practice builds skill I don't think it's sufficient unless you also make things. In the same way I think that our current idea of software craftsmanship is insufficient if we're going to create a healthy community rather than another hollow buzzword.

Recently I've been thinking about the idea of a "generative community." This is a group of people united by overlapping values that lead them to create things that affect the real world (this may be software, devices, conferences, websites, etc) rather than just talk and think about making things.

I'd like our little community to be generative in the same way that Christopher Alexander wanted patterns to be generative. And I'd like you, the reader, to help make this happen.

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