Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

I highly recommend this book if you find yourself on a tech project that involves software engineering, managing one or wondering why the hell your product has not been launched yet. This book was first published in 1975 so the technology references are rather outdated.

I first read this book in 2005 and was surprised that many of the mistakes made some 30 years prior were being made all over again on the projects I was involved with at my employer at the time. Actually quite disheartened to the point that it was clear we were on a death march if things didn't change drastically.

If you aren't into or don't have the time to read the book, you can find a decent summary at WikiPedia.

The full quote featured in the title is as follows:

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

--George Santayana, The Life of Reason (Great Books in Philosophy)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Free Will

"How--how did I get here?"
"It would take another Earthling to explain it to you,
Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this event
is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved
or avoided. I am a Tralfamdorian, seeing all time as you
might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all
time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or
explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and
you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber."
"You sound to me as though you don't believe in free will," said Billy Pilgrim.
"If I hadn't spent so much time studying Earthlings,"said the Tralfamadorian, "I wouldn't have any idea what was
meant by 'free will.' I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets
in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will."

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut, page 82.

the myths of innovation

scott berkun, page 56

"there is nothing more difficult to take in
hand, more perilous to conduct, or more
uncertain in its success, than to take the lead
in the introduction of a new order of things.
For the reformer has enemies in all those who
profit by the old order, and only lukewarm
defenders in all those who would profit by the
new order, this lukewarmness arising partly
from fear of their adversaries...and partly
from the incredulity of mankind, who do not
truly believe in anything new until they have
had actual experience of it."
--Niccolo Machiavelli