Subjects Keeping Me Awake

17/01/2009

Shirts and symmetry

Filed under: Uncategorized — bjosk @ 15:38

Greg Lynn is an architect with a strange taste in shirts. He however has very good taste in architecture. In this TED-talk he however said something quite profound. Symmertry is not the sign of order and organization, symmetry is the absence of information. It immediatly struck me as at the very core of how I look at software and in particular bad software. In the end it seems, the reason bad systems design is bad is because it is not symmetric when it could have been. Unnecessary complexity is a well known bad boy in software engineering but I don’t think it quite explains the underlying problem in the same profound way this theory of symmetry breaking does. Symmetry breaking also explains how you can in rare cases see really large systems that are still not ugly and it is a hopeful thought: You can actually add functionality without moving towards that seemingly inevitable code bloat. You can do it, if you can do it without breaking symmetry. But look out! your shirt may still be ugly as hell.

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