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Sat, 03 May 2003
Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
I recently finished reading Steven Johnson's Emergence. I liked the book well enough, but I felt a bit unsatisfied reading it. Maybe it's because I've been reading all these network science books, or because I had already been exposed to certain ideas in emergent computation. It was interesting to read about emergence in the context of ant colonies and cities, but I was hoping for a slightly more technical treatment than what's in the book.

Lots of things that seem quite interesting to me at the moment have emergent qualities or flavors to them. Weblogging/social software/whatever we're calling it, open source/community development and agile development methods all taste emergent to me. All of these topics are technical in nature, but its the human process around them that feels emergent, rather than centrally planned. I think that this is going to be a large societal trend in the future, beyond the niche of technology oriented folks. Johnson speaks to this a bit when he describes how kids are shaped by games with emergent qualities:

I think they have developed another skill, one that almost looks like patience: they are more tolerant of being out of control, more tolerant of that exploratory phase where the rules don't all make sense, and where few goals have been clearly defined. In other words, they are uniquely equipped to embrace the more oblique control system of emergent software. The hard work of tomorrow's interactive design will be exploring the tolerance -- that suspension of control -- in ways that enlighten us, in ways that move beyond the insulting residue of princesses and magic spells.
As the general population gets used to emergent behavior, I think that there will be more of a willingness to explore new ideas that have emergent flavors.
[14:13] | [books] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
More on Dynamic Typing
Bruce Eckel's weblog appeared on Python owns us today. His most recent entry is about his experience with Python and its dynamic typing. He also references Bob Martin's post earlier this week on this topic.

Don Box also referenced Martin's post. The interesting thing in Don's post is at the end, where he says:

Maybe Bob should come up to Redmond and help us out!
Exactly what kind of help does Microsoft need? Dynamic language help? Help with alternatives to TDD for building a dynamic language safety net?
[13:55] | [computers/programming] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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