Essay Archive

This is Not a Blog

In which I embark on an overly long justification for starting my own website, and I attempt to establish who the intended audience is.

Reclaiming Software Engineering

In which I attempt to show the software development process is more appropriately characterised as a form of engineering than as a craft. I argue that resistance to this idea this stems from an understanding of ‘software engineering’ based on a definition concocted by people who understand neither software nor engineering.

The Myth of Rational Design

In which I analyse David Parnas and Paul Clements’s classic software engineering paper ‘A Rational Design Process: How and Why to Fake It’ and take issue with the idea of a Platonic design process that exists independently of how actual designers actually create their designs.

Is it Safe?

In which I explore the concepts of reliability and safety through an examination of the film Marathon Man.

The Politics of Reason

In which I hypothesise that political meddling in science has been both preceded and precipitated by scientific meddling in politics. A reversal of this situation will require a better understanding and acknowledgement of what science is.

A Pilgrimage to Fallingwater

In which I explain why I once drove all the way to Pennsylvania to look at a house—Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1935 masterpiece, Fallingwater.

Senior Engineers are Living in the Future

In which I explain why comparing yourself to the more-senior engineers around you is a mistake: they have a structural advantage of earlier access to information that can be hard to distinguish from prescience.