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I keep coming back to this essay called "Can a Biologist Fix a Radio?": http://protein.bio.msu.ru/biokhimiya/contents/v69/pdf/bcm_14...

The thing that keeps coming to mind is that it's easy to hand-wave pseudo-understanding of systems using enough jargon and vague diagrams. And if you use enough jargon and cloak things behind complex methodologies (the mechanisms to even begin investigating how cellular machinery works are enormously complex) it's easy to hide a lack of understanding. And I can't help think a similar sort of problem exists in software. The tools and terminology we have for explaining and understanding software systems leaves a lot to be desired, and one of the ways that is revealed is in the diagrams we use for describing systems. At a fairly fine grain we can use UML diagrams, but these tell us almost nothing and in complex systems simply become a giant hairball. Typically we end up describing a system as a series of layers, or as an interconnected set of services, but I can't shake the notion that such diagrams are too much like Figure 3a in the essay above than like 3b, they are the crudest sketch of a system, they don't touch on the nature or interrelation of the components.




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