Marco Dorantes' WebLog

"Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes" -Edsger W. Dijkstra

Is there such a thing like a method of design?

Is there such a thing like a method of design?

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I have observed, time after time, an author or renowned professional share or publish her opinion about something, said, in time T1. Many people listen to that opinion —with accuracy or with misinterpretation— and then take that view for granted. Moreover, many, many people start behaving like propagandists of such reinterpreted or particular view; they even start enterprises based on generalizations of such views. Sometimes, curiously enough, the original author —who is guided by his own critical powers— find out, in time T2, new corroborated information which become the base for a shift in opinion or a significant improvement over her previous views. Including a complete departure from what he previously said.

For instance, about 1964, Christopher Alexander wrote a book entitled Notes on the synthesis of form. Many people understood that what is important about design is the process or method of design and they emphatically pursued the development of design processes as mean to better designs. Doug Lea wrote about the integration of Alexander’s works to field of software design.

Almost ten years later, the same Christopher Alexander wrote a preface to the paperback 1971 edition of the same book. There he explains that after the book was written, he discovered new information that leaded him to understand how unfortunate is the disproportion portrayed in the book between the attention given to the design method or process and the attention given to the practice of design itself. Mainly, because no one will become a better designer by blindly following the denoted design method, or indeed by following any method blindly.

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