Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mythical Man Month

I blogged about Conway's Law back in November 2007. Conway's article reminded me about Fred Brooks' "Mythical Man Month" and I've just found that it is available to me on-line courtesy of my ACM membership. What a source of wisdom! It would, of course, be shallow to just pick out single phrases from the work, and not consider the deeper messages. But what's wrong with shallow:

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined."

"The conclusion is simple: if a 200-man project has 25 managers who are the most competent and experienced programmers, fire the 175 troops and put the managers back to programming."

"The second-system effect has another manifestation somewhat different from pure functional embellishment. That is a tendency to refine techniques whose very existence has been made obsolete by changes in basic system assumptions."

"On a Model 165, memory rents for about $12 per kilobyte per month."

"According to the Genesis account, the tower of Babel was man's second major engineering undertaking, after Noah's ark. Babel was the first engineering fiasco."

"On another project the best engineering manager I ever saw served often as a giant flywheel, his inertia damping the fluctuations that came from market and management people."

And finally, quoting David Parnas:

"We can write good or bad programs with any tool. "

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