Awasu » Dignity is deadly
Friday 21st October 2005 10:15 PM [General]

I saw Wallace and Grommit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit earlier tonight and enjoyed it immensely. It's one of those movies you know you're going to have a great time at, even before the opening credits roll on. And in a roundabout way, seeing it helped me make a design decision for Awasu 🙂

I've written before, albeit very briefly, about some of the similarities between playing music and writing computer software. People sometimes have trouble figuring out how I can do both of these things. "Playing music is so creative and working with computers is so, um, not!" they say. But actually, they are very similiar activities.

Being a musician definitely has more than it's fair share of boring, mechanical drudge work - I'd hate to figure out how many thousands of hours I've put in playing scales and chords and studying theory - yet on the other side, cutting code is an extremely creative process. There are design decisions to be made at every step along the way, from the big-ticket items such as what features the program will have and how they work, down to what the UI should look like, all the way down to how you format the instructions in each program file you give to the computer. Every programmer has his own style and way of doing things and it's often possible to identify who wrote a particular piece of code just from the way it has been laid out and designed. I know I've worked hard to develop my own style in programming (as I have in music) and my stuff is instantly recognizable to anyone who's worked with me 😎

A few people have gently suggested to me that the sound that Awasu plays by default when an error occurs is somewhat, um, unprofessional and I've been in two minds about whether to change it to something more conventional. But it occured to me, as I was rolling around in laughter at the cinema tonight, that at the heart of the creative process is a good sense of humour. You can hardly imagine Joe in Accounting, that boring old stick in the mud, doing anything remotely creative beyond using a different font in the quarterly reports. And being truly creative, almost by definition, implies crossing the line and going beyond the bounds of normal behaviour.

Now, while I can understand where Microsoft is coming from when they decree that adding an easter egg to a program is grounds for immediate termination, I'd much rather be just a little bit unprofessional, at least every now and then.

When you evolve out of start-up mode and start worrying about being professional and dignified, you only lose capabilities. You don't add anything... you only take away. Dignity is deadly.
Why do we go from the business equivalent of the unruly-but-creative teenager to a stuffy parent? Can't we be something in-between? Why not the motivated, fun, creative 30-year old? (I'm not being ageist here -- this is a metaphor). If we're forced into becoming the "parent", why can't we at least be the cool parent from down the street? And by "cool", I mean the truly cool, not cool simply because they supplied the beer.
By the time we ran things through the deadly professionalism filters, the life, passion, joy, and in this case--brain-friendliness--had been sucked out.


2.2 RC1 will be released later today and The Moo stays in :whistle:

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