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Rules are not a Substitute for Thinking
A Pragmatic Manifesto
by Mark Williamson
June 24, 2003
In which I say a little bit about myself and why I'm doing this


Starting a weblog is always a strange thing. I notice others have just pitched straight in but I’m afraid I need a bit of a preamble. So to get me started here are a few pointers to who. why and what of this weblog


I currently work as Chief Technical Architect for a company called Appropria. We make a product called “Advantage” which is a task oriented portal (not the approved marketing terms). My role has to make the product “vision” a technical reality, a job which has covered many aspects of software development from cutting code, to designing the application, to helping to put in place the team infrastructure that’s made it all possible. As you might imagine I have lots to say about all of these things.

Prior to this I’ve done all sorts of things. I started programming commercially in 1988 but I had been programming long before that. My story is that I started when I was 12 but I’ve told people that so often I have no idea whether its true or not. If you want to see my cv or just to know more about the non software development side of my life feel free to visit my personal website junklight.

This Weblog

I maintain a very intermittent weblog on my own personal site. I am careful not to cover work and software issues on that log primarily because the audience there is for my music and other writing. However given that the main thing I do in my life is software development then its nice to have an outlet for the many issues that arise.

The title of both this entry and the weblog as a whole allude to the distaste I have for both idealism and peoples reluctance to question things.

Now don’t get me wrong – there is a place for idealistic thinking. Without it we would not be able to place structural frameworks around our thoughts and processes. When they are created Ideologies are often vibrant living things binding together a the people who create them. However they rapidly become dead weights imposing inappropriate and inflexible rules in unwarranted situations. Sadly Software engineering contains many ideologies of this nature mindlessly applied to the detriment of all concerned. Worse still a lot of companies adhere to rigid processes that are not ideologies but are just “the way things are done”.

There is a simple solution to this however – asking questions. By asking the right questions about the things that we already do and the things we are going to do we can avoid some of the traps and that is what this weblog is for. For me as much as anyone else.

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About the Blogger

Mark Williamson has been a software developer since the late 80's. He is currently working as Development Manager for Vamosa managing the team building their product Vamosa Content Migrator which is a powerful application for migrating unstructured content into CMS's. He has worked on a wide variety of projects over the years including AI based education tools for the Electric Brain Company and real time telemetery for the Williams Formula 1 team.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2003 Mark Williamson. All rights reserved.

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