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10. Ancient Philosophers > Software Lore

Software Lore

Software developers are mostly ignorant of software lore. Because technology moves so quickly, developers have to struggle to keep up with all the changes. What could some ancient (relatively, that is) technology tell me about the kinds of problems I need to solve right now?

Certainly reading a book about the syntax of Smalltalk isn’t going to help you if you write only in Java or C#. But all Smalltalk books don’t have just syntax in them: they have the hard-won lessons of the developers who were using a brand-new technology (object-oriented languages) for the first time.


Pay attention to the lore of “ancient” technologies.

Ancient philosophers created ideas that seem obvious in hindsight but that required great leaps of intellect and courage at the time. Sometimes they suffered greatly because what they said went against the established doctrines. One of the great rebels of history was Galileo, who apparently didn’t believe anything that anyone told him. He always had to try it for himself. The accepted wisdom before his time maintained that a heavier object would fall faster than a lighter one. This was based on Aristotelian thinking, where thinking hard about something logically had more merit than experimenting. Galileo didn’t buy it, so he went to the top of the Leaning Tower of ....


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