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how to develop software

All quotes are from The Process of Creating Life, by Christopher Alexander. Emphasis and ellipses as in the original.   The further I went to understand the actual process which had been used to make the tile, the more I realized that it was this process, more than anything, which governs the beauty of the […]

brenda romero: jiro dreams of game design

It’s months since GDC, and I’m still trying to unpack my feelings about Brenda Romero’s Jiro Dreams of Game Design talk. Or maybe not so much my feelings about it—it’s an excellent talk, no question—but my emotional reactions to it. Her talk confronts concepts that I care about (greatness, team structure, creation) in contexts that […]

the ghibli museum cafe

We went to Japan two and a half months ago, and I still haven’t gotten around to really blogging about the trip! Part of that is because I’ve been busy; most of that is because I’m not much of a travel blogger, I write about things I’ve been thinking about instead of places I’ve been […]

alexandrian minecraft

When I first started playing Minecraft, I spent most of my time, well, mining. Or at least underground: I’d obsessively dig stairs going straight through the rock in one direction or another, I’d occasionally hollow out a blocky room whenever I needed a space for a chest or a crafting table, and every once in […]

habitable software

There’s been lots of discussion recently about the fact that certain computing platforms are less open than some people would prefer, with many people being up in arms about this fact. Once, I would have been one of those people; these days, I’m not (though seeing the reduction in openness does make me sad), and […]

explaining my choices

I periodically encounter discussions of why people play games (most recently in A Life Well Wasted), and I’ve been getting more and more allergic to such talk. The main reason is that it almost always comes in the form of claims that “we play games to have fun” (with a strong implication that anybody who […]


Some experiences from my recent reading: My recent Christopher Alexander reading made me wonder: what are the centers in this blog? Am I nurturing them properly? Seth Godin’s Tribes got me thinking: I see other bloggers out there leading tribes, and I quite enjoy being part of one of them. To what extent, however, do […]

richard gabriel on christopher alexander

I claimed that my last post was going to be my last Christopher Alexander post for a while, but I lied. I spend some time today reading Richard Gabriel’s Patterns of Software, the first part of which talks about Alexander’s work (up through the carpets book, which isn’t discussed nearly enough; Gabriel’s book dates from […]

agile processes as living structures

One more Christopher Alexander Nature of Order post, and then I’ll take a break. This is a counterpart to my earlier post about living code (I even repeat some of the examples): this time, I’m focusing on the agile processes that might produce that code. Again, thanks to the Agile Open California participants who helped […]

living code

Today’s Nature of Order experiment: see what the characteristics of living structures might look like when applied to software. Many thanks to the Agile Open California participants who helped me think through this; I’ll have a later blog post that talks about agile and living processes. Levels of Scale This is certainly present in the […]

shadow of the colossus as living structure

When I finished playing Shadow of the Colossus, I was impressed by it, but no more than by several other games from around the same time. Then at some point, perhaps a year and a half later, I was browsing the web and came across a picture of the game. And I gasped, I shuddered. […]

alive games

I’m rereading The Phenomenon of Life, by Christopher Alexander, in preparation for reading the other books in the series. And, again, I’m blown away by it: if the book contained nothing but the pictures in it, it would be worth it. But, of course, there’s a lot more to the book than pretty (beautiful, profound) […]

detailing carpets

I’ve been on a bit of a Christopher Alexander kick for the last couple of years. At first, I started reading his most famous books, but those were good enough to leave me curious about what else he’d written. Not all of which is great, but enough is to keep me going. Still, it’s taken […]

weinberg on incremental construction

I’m a fan of authors on construction whose works I can read in a programming context. On a related note, here’s a bit from Gerald Weinberg with a building/programming analogy that I like. (Quality Software Management, v. 4: Anticipating Change, pp. 216–217: Imagine building a house by bringing all the parts to the lot, then […]

who designs?

I’m in the middle of reading A New Theory of Urban Design. Not one of Alexander’s best (though it’s interesting enough); it’s hurt by problem that, as he comments, part of the theory that he’s discussing “remains unpublished. It will appear in a later volume of this series, “The Nature of Order”. Which turned into […]

recasting the architect, iterative design, and onsite customers

Some quotes from the chapter on “The Architect Builder” in Christopher Alexander’s The Production of Houses: This requires, then, that decisions about design can be made, individually, house by house, and that they can even be made while construction is under way. (p. 69) It requires a system of communication in which the building is […]