Posted by cadsmith on October 24, 2010
Time to put those campfire stories to good use. If you’ve ever wondered what it all may lead to, see Cast Shadow.
This book is about architectural research methods which seek evidence to answer specific questions about cause-effect. In a series of a couple of dozen case studies and interviews, it characterizes the six quality attributes of hypothesis, epistemology, metrics, strength of evidence, external validation and transparency. It discusses the 2005 Latrobe hypothesis which has three parts for collaboration between architect and clients, use of both empiricism and induction, and metrics. A process of prototyping and testing is used to make buildings. Software is used for analysis and prediction. Computer models are used to find and demonstrate solutions. Compelling measurements from the realworld support the conclusions. The computer is then used to include these types of measurements in architectural designs. Actual designs are made which use the newer solution approaches. There are seven chapters.
The author questions how humans became intelligent and whether tools and therefore technology predated humans. He proposes a set of three levels, system 3, flint tool or artificial tech arising after system 1 inanimate natural pebble, and system 2 natural biological mollusk. His style mixes data and personal anecdotes from in the field. He updates the arguments of initially proposed by Darwin regarding trial and error with newer findings and inductive reasoning to demonstrate that technology enabled human biological evolution. The human brain is three to four times larger in size than a primate’s, but smaller than it was 150k years ago. The chart spans ten million years and shows an average increase and several dips. Much of the content has been externalized by technology so the modern head may be more efficient in the social context. This is similar to body mass and coordination which used to be required to get food. Civilizations may succumb to environmental disasters since some tend to worsen due to social practice. Competition between humans was a significant selector and technological advantage allowed symbolic development. Skeuomorphs mimic previous designs using new materials. Anti-science creationism may be an artifact of human models that led to questions of causality for the artists. Infant slings were an initial tool used upon walking upright and which also encouraged brain size. Groups have their own techno-culture and their tools may seem alien to others. This included cooking bowls which led to different diets and centralized preparation like the later fast foods. The first chipped stone tool found preceded homo sapiens by almost 200,000 years. Chimps, who probably were derived from the same ape as humans about seven million years ago, also use these types, as did Tasmanian aborigines isolated from the mainland. Otzi the ice man, from 5000 years ago on the high Alps, had more complex ones like from an early assembly line.
The thesis is that there is an analogy between writing requirements and a story. The book is concise and readable and formalizes a requirements method. The instructions show how to illustrate dataflow and UML. There are outlines and a document template. The outline formats differentiate an Agile version from more robust. Scenarios are used to show the success and exception results of each application process. The latter word is used in several contexts such as for the requirements themselves, for the system, and for the software elements. It assumes that the review considers feasibility.
This title is a happy medium as an anecdote, however the full length treatment is full of caveats. A story is a narrative, where the requirements are more of an agreement. There are a lot of differences. The audience of designers, for example, will have an expectation that there is enough detail for them to do specifications. System analysts and testers will seek to itemize features and constraints so that they can be tracked throughout the development and validation processes. Perhaps the story explains the why’s, the requirements the what’s, and the designs do the how’s. It does list usability testing and brings up availability, for example.
In summary, marketing presentations might lean more heavily on the story side, and software on objectives. Other approaches along these lines have included object-oriented parsing of text to objects. Scenarios and scenes are also used in test descriptions, e.g. use cases. Analogies are used in technical documentation. Complementary approaches might also include user actions as problem-solving or decision trees.
Recent links (about thirty-six):
digital-libraries Technology Review: Blogs: Mims’s Bits: Why There Can Never Be A Competitor to Google Books
mathematics Dr Dobbs – Linear Equation Breakthrough
Glasses With HUDs Just Became A Little More Affordable | Techi.com
What is Mobile Virtualization and Why is it Important? – ReadWriteCloud
picplz for iPhone & Android – See what’s happening now
spacecraft International Docking Standard