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I preordered a book from the Pragmatic Programmers on a whim. Back then it was called "Refactor your Wetware". I regularly got PDF updates through my email. Now it finally came out, and I'm reading it with much pleasure.

Although it talks about the development process, this is a not a technical book. You are used to working with software and hardware, but what about your wetware - your own brain?

In this book you'll learn how to:

  • Use the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition to become more expert
  • Leverage the architecture of the brain to strengthen different thinking modes
  • Avoid common "known bugs" in your mind
  • Learn more deliberately and more effectively Manage knowledge more efficiently

Software development happens in your head, not in an editor, IDE or design tool. It's time to take a more pragmatic approach to both thinking and learning. It's time to refactor and redesign your brain.

Just to whet your appetite, I'll quote the start of the first chapter.

Back in the early 1980s, the nursing profession in the United States faced problems similar to the problems programmers and engineers face today. Here are some observations that ring true for both nurses and programmers, and probably other professions as well:

  • Nurses were often disregarded as a mere commodity: they just carried out the highly trained doctor's orders and weren't expected to have any input on patient care.
  • Because of pay-scale inequities, expert nurses were leaving direct patient care in droves. There was more money to be made in management, teaching or the lecture circuit.
  • Nursing education began to falter: many thought that formal methods of practice were the best way to teach. An overreliance on formal methods and tools eroded real experience in practice.
  • Finally, they lost sight of the real goal-patient outcomes. Despite whatever process and methodology you followed, despite who worked on your patient, what was the outcome? Did the patient live and thrive? Or not?

If you read that list carefully, you may have noticed that these problems sound eerily familiar. Allow me to sightly edit this bullet list to reflect software development:

  • Coders were often disregarded as a mere commodity: they just carried out the highly trained analyst's orders and weren't expected to have any input on the design and architecture of the project.
  • Because of pay-scale inequities, expert programmers were leaving hands-on coding in droves. There was more money to be made in management, teaching or the lecture circuit.
  • Software engineering education began to falter: many thought that formal methods of practice were the best way to teach. An overreliance on formal methods and tools eroded real experience in practice.
  • Finally, they lost sight of the real goal-project outcomes. Despite whatever process and methodology you followed, despite who worked on your project, what was the outcome? Did the project live and thrive? Or not?


This book is filled with this kind of pearls of knowledge. Highly recommended.

It is now called Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your "Wetware". This is the kind of book that makes you think about your art, and it just received its place in my list next to Code Complete and The Pragmatic Programmer and a few others.

Posted on Saturday, October 18, 2008 11:30 PM .net , Personal | Back to top


Comments on this post: Refactor your wetware

# re: Refactor your wetware
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Dear Michel,

thanks for introducing this book.
Beside all the programming, support and managing stuff of the every day work and training and learning these things, a book like 'Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your "Wetware"' is really welcome.
Because I'm open to learn more, I will buy one, definitely !

Regards,
Dirk
Left by Dirk Rodermund on Oct 19, 2008 1:58 PM

# re: Refactor your wetware
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This book has been on my wishlist for quite some time now. Glad to see it finally gets printed.
Left by Jan Van Ryswyck on Oct 19, 2008 8:15 PM

# re: Refactor your wetware
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Just ordered mine too. Thanx for the advice . . .

Regards,
Björn
Left by Björn Rochel on Oct 20, 2008 7:53 PM

# re: Refactor your wetware
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This book is awesome!
Left by Robz on Apr 17, 2009 6:58 PM

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