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Can we all stop pretending software development is engineering? For chrissakes.

We don't build bridges, we make valuable things people will give us money for. We solve problems. We respond to rapidly changing, conflicting requirements.

How many suspension bridge projects have turned into skyscraper construction projects over the course of two months? Now, how many web startups have radically changed their idea? Flickr started as an online game, you know.

I'm extremely suspicious of anyone who calls themselves a "software engineer."




I tried to convey the idea that it was a continuum between hacking and engineering. "Software engineering" is a lot closer to hacking than it is to hard engineering like chemical, aeronautical, or civil. It doesn't have the extreme safety requirements of building a bridge or a rocket booster, but it does have constraints on development cost, time, and performance that you can blissfully ignore in exploratory hacking.


With all due respect, your assertion that software engineering lacks extreme safety requirements is false. Like any engineering discipline, software engineering is applied to both safety critical and non-safety critical domains.

When I was in school this article[0] was required reading. Your life and safety depend on software engineers every time you dial 911, ride an airplane, etc. Not everyone is writing Facebook applications :)

[0] http://sunnyday.mit.edu/papers/therac.pdf


It's hard to make definitive statements about field as huge as "software" or "engineering". Yes, there are areas of software with high requirements for safety (avionics), performance (air traffic control), etc, just like there are areas of engineering that don't have them (improving the manufacturing process to make toothbrushes cheaper). I'm using it in the statistical general sense, sort of like "Men are taller than women." More software gets written for business apps than anything else, and the strict safety requirements aren't there.




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