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Designed as Designer Expanded

Designed as Designer Expanded

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Published by Richard Gabriel

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Published by: Richard Gabriel on Aug 05, 2010
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08/04/2010

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This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-
Share Alike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/ 
or send a letter toCreative Commons171 Second Street, Suite 300San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
Abstract
Conceptual integrity arises not (simply) rom one mindor rom a small number o agreeing resonant minds, but
rom sometimes hidden co-authors and the thing designed
itsel.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
A.0 [General]
General Terms
Design
 Keywords
Conceptual integrity, design
t 
Morning oods Firenze—the sun stains roos, heat and
smoke clog the sky in red. Noise starts at dawn or just be-ore; the smell never stops.Pippo is long up, and beore his mother begins cooking
he’s halway to the build site where he sees bricklayers, cart-
ers, and leadbeaters already gathering, carrying their tools
and leather bags o rough meals. Coals are being uedto blacksmoke fres and then burning hell or the black-smith’s orge and another day o repairing tools. Stealthy 
cooks steal the blacksmith’s ames with tapers to start their
cookstoves to eed the cratsmen throughout the loomingmidsummer’s day.Pippo joins a parade o oxcarts bearing bags o sand andlime, and next to him a merchant lugs a wicker rucksack o wine on his back. Pippo’s urge is to watch the treadmillhoists and cranes lit their frst loads o the day to the topo the nave. The great cathedral o Firenze.
t
The central problem…is to get conceptual integrity 
in the design itsel…
…Fred Brooks told us in his sweet southern voice—Mon-
tréal, OOPSLA 2007, during his keynote [1]. I recalled a
Designed as Designer
comment I heard at Bread Loa back in the ’90s, ater Larry Brown read—the late fction writer rom Oxord, Mississip- pi—that anything sounds 10 times more true when spoken
by someone with a southern accent. As Brooks spoke—
mostly o the cu—and paced slowly away rom the podium
and back, I ell under his spell—as I suppose did most o his
audience. He went on:
 I we look back then at the 19
th
century and thethings that happened—the cartwright and the tex-
tile machinery, Stephenson (the train), Brunel’s
bridges and railway, Edison , Ford, the Wright broth-
ers, etc—these were very largely the designs o sin- gle designers or, in the case o the Wright brothers, pairs.
[1]
Read that paragraph aloud and you’ll hear the rhythm o 
his speaking. I wanted very much to believe every word he
said—he’s Fred Brooks ater all.
The Mythical Man Month
.
—OS/360. And why not?—nothing sounds o, and it’s certain
he’s done his homework. I’ll quote him at length now:
 Now i we look back at the history o human pro-
duction and culture, most works o art have not beenmade [by teams]. And that’s true whether we look at 
literature, whether we look at music—although we
have Gilbert and Sullivan; notice that one did the
words and one did the music—Brunelleschi’s dome,
 Michelangelo’s tremendous works, the paintings—there are some paintings by two painters; one did 
the creatures and one did the landscape kinda thing,
this careul division o labor—and the exceptionsto the notion that most o the great works we knowo were done by one mind are in act done by twominds and not by teams.
[1]
Fred Brooks imagines an ideal when he thinks o design:conceptual integrity arising rom a single mind creatinga design. Brooks once wrote “conceptual integrity is themost important consideration in system design,” [2] and
by conceptual integrity he means “one set o design ideas.”
“Every part must reect the same philosophies and the same
Richard P. Gabriel
IBM ResearchHawthorne, New York USA
dreamsongs.comus.ibm.com
{
rpg@
 
 2
balancing o desiderata” [2]. “Conceptual integrity…dictatesthat the design must proceed rom one mind, or rom a small
number o agreeing resonant minds” [2].
…modern scholars now recognize that the workso Homer…are…the works o one mind.…[T]he im- portant poem Beowul is…a literary work…o onemind.
 As I say the exceptions are two, and two is a magic
number. There are many, many jobs in the world 
that are designed or two people: the carpenter and 
the carpenter’s helper, the electrician and the elec-
trician’s helper. And I think our Lord knew what He
was doing when He made marriage work or two. But now let’s look at some o these magnifcent works.
 Brunelleschi’s dome—and many o you have read 
the book—was a tremendous creation, technically 
beyond what people believed possible. He had to pro-
duce a working scale model beore the people buying 
the project would even believe that it could be built. And notice the scale o this building in comparisonwith the surrounding buildings.
[1]Fred Brooks went on to speak o why we need to designin teams. He gave three reasons: the frst is that engineer-ing is now sufciently sophisticated that specialists are re-quired to create the designs. The third is that many handsmake light work—that is, it helps to break up an enormoustask into smaller ones that are more readily achieved. Hereis how he phrased the second reason:
 Now, the second major reason why we do thingsin teams is hurry to get to market. We all know the
rule that the rst person to market with a totally 
new innovation tends to stabilize out with 40 or 
45 percent o the share, and the rest is divided upamong the come latelys.
[1]
When Brooks said this it tweaked a memory rom the days
 when I was creating arguments or and against a “theory”
I whimsically proposed in 1991, now known as “worse isbetter.” That theory argues that the best and most endur-
ing products—and their designs—arise rom producing anadequate design and implementation, and then making itavailable and putting it to use so its users have an opportu-
nity to contribute to its uture refnement. In short it’s a way 
to learn the real requirements beore it’s too late.While working out the arguments, I became interestedin the arc rom conception to usage or all sorts o things—
sotware, consumer goods, and even works o art. While
exploring this I stumbled across the work o Gerard J. Tel-lis and Peter N. Golder, two business researchers who con-cluded that the dictum
 frst to market 
is really a myth [3].—A myth created by poor research methodology and impre-cise defnitions.First the shocking truth: looking at 66 categories o busi-
nesses, Tellis and Golder ound that the mean market share
o the pioneer companies is 6% (as o the year 2000). O the
36 categories where the pioneer entered their market beore
1940, the market share is 6%; or categories frst entered be-tween 1940 and 1974, it is 10%; and ater 1974 it is 4%. Thisis a long way o rom 40 to 45 percent.Now the reasons. Studies beore Tellis and Golder made3 atal errors. First, even when they tried to be objective, in-vestigators usually ignored pioneers who ailed completely or let the market. For example, many consider Gillette the
 pioneer in saety razors, but in act Gillette is merely theoldest surviving player in that market. The saety razor
had been patented and was sold by several companies de-cades beore Gillette was ounded, and an early design orthe saety razor had been created a century beore Gillettecame on the scene.Second, many studies suer rom sel-report bias. Inves-tigators in such studies survey companies currently in the
market and rely on those companies telling the researchers
 who the pioneers are/were. Procter & Gamble, or example,claims to be the disposable diaper pioneer: P&G reports it“literally created the disposable diaper business in the U.S.”[4]. Yet, or decades beore Pampers came along, other com- panies sold disposable diapers: the pioneer was a company 
called Chux, which introduced disposables in 1934. Pampers
entered the market in 1961.
Third, there are defnitional problems with some surveys
trying to determine frst-to-market advantage. For exam-
 ple, Wang dominated the word processor market or a long
time, where a “word processor” was defned as a “dedicated
 word processing machine.” Another is to defne as pioneera company that entered a market early in its history. This
is why Gillette is considered a pioneer in the saety razor
business.
Brooks’s statement also seemed odd because I knew that
he knows about this eect. In the 20
th
anniversary editiono 
The Mythical Man-Month
, he wrote:
One o the most impressive developments in sot-ware during the past two decades has been the tri-
umph o the Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointing in-
terace…. This concept was frst publicly displayed by Doug Engelbart and his team rom the Stanord 
 Research Institute at the Western Joint Computer 
Conerence o 1968. From there the ideas went to Xe-
rox Palo Alto Research Center, where they emerged in the Alto personal workstation, developed by Bob
Taylor and team. They were picked up by Steve Jobs
 or the Apple Lisa, a computer too slow to carry its exciting ease-o-use concepts. These concepts Jobs then embodied in the commercially success-
 
3
 ul Apple Macintosh in 1985. They were later ad-opted in Microsot Windows or the IBM PC and 
compatibles.
[2]O course, this history ignores Sketchpad [5] and possi-bly even earlier ideas, as well as contemporaries o the Altolike the MIT Lisp Machine.
But getting back to Brooks’s talk: the seed was plant-
ed—the seed o doubt. Maybe Fred Brooks could be wrong.
—Not wrong, really, but incomplete. —Incomplete in his
scholarship or depth o analysis. Or maybe he—as many o us do—looks a little too optimistically or the real world toconfrm his ideas. Or he is not wrong but
in situ
examplesare too messy to be perect. As G. B. Shaw could have said,they are
too true to be good 
.
t
Pippo—back home and over breakast—asks his ather to
tell him again the story o the cathedral. Breakast: hismother’s prepared his avorite—salt pork ried in orangeand lemon with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled over. His
ather tells him again—the 40
th
time?—about the immense
and immensely beautiul design o Arnolo di Cambio, andhow they razed the old church and even another to make
room, how they brought in slaves to remove the corpsesrom the old cemetery, how the workers stopped and the
cathedral was abandoned ater the sickness came, how the
nave and açade stood out in the rain every winter or morethan 10 years. Over the bleats o sheep and goats and clucks
and honks o chickens and geese Pippo hears the shouts o orders rom the work site.But why has it taken so long, Pippo asks. It’s almost 100 years and it’s not hal done. His ather answers: We mustalways await the gits rom God that show us the way or- ward.
t
My experience—writing poems, writing stories, doing pho-
tography, working on small graphics and drawing projects—is that design and art are rarely the product o a single mind.I take that back; they never are. There are two ways that thesingle mind idea doesn’t work with art and poetry. The easy 
one to understand is the ways that others are constantly 
helping. As a writer I encounter help in all sorts o ways.
I’ve never published anything in a serious venue withoutsome riend or colleague—and usually several—having read
and commented on it. I take the comments seriously, andthere are several riends whose recommendations I adoptessentially without question. The typical nonfction book is ull o acknowledgements that indicate a co-author-typerelationship, and that’s true or my writings.
And even when an artist seems to be creating something
completely new—artists like da Vinci, van Gogh, or Beck-ett—it usually turns out there are hidden, unconscious in-uences even they can’t recognize.
One o the more well-known examples o this sort o 
help is the relationship between T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
Roughly around 1920, Eliot started work on his best-known poem and masterpiece, called
The Waste Land 
. At that time
both Pound and Eliot were expatriates—Eliot in England,Pound in France—who on occasion worked together, with
Pound generally playing the role o mentor. Pound was a
sort o talent scout, and had helped Eliot get his frst poems
 published a ew years earlier. On his way to Switzerland or
a “rest cure,” Eliot took his
Waste Land 
manuscript o about
1000 lines to Pound in Paris or comments, and he stopped in
Paris again on his trip back. There were undoubtedly many 
conversations, but also there are marked up manuscriptsin the Berg Collection in the New York Public Library thattell us the story o the collaboration.
Pound ound the heart o Eliot’s manuscript and directedhim in paring it down to the 434 lines we see today. Don’t be
ooled: Pound did not merely scrape away words, lines, andstanzas (though that’s what he mostly did); Pound’s com-
ments are extensive—i cryptic to readers not accustomed toartists talking to each other—and not particularly subtle. He
 pointed out weaknesses and suggested changes. Eliot wrote
this about the role Pound played in
The Waste Land 
:
 It was in 1922 that I placed beore him in Paris
the manuscript o a sprawling, chaotic poem called 
The Waste Land
which let his hands, reduced toabout hal its size, in the orm in which it appearsin print. I should like to think that the manuscript,with the suppressed passages, had disappeared ir-
recoverably: yet on the other hand, I should wish the
blue penciling on it to be preserved as irreutableevidence o Pound’s critical genius.
–T. S. Eliot,
Erza Pound 
[6]
A hypothetical programming language example with
lots o deletions and some revision to think about: suppose,
in a world with nothing like Lisps, someone designing a
 programming language came up with essentially a messy 
version o what we would call Common Lisp. The Pound
or this Eliot might well identiy a subset o the language which, when cleaned up and revised a bit, would turn out
to be what we would call Scheme. Common Lisp is very 
large, even rambling, and Scheme is small and elegant; themajor undamental dierence between them is that Com-
mon Lisp has separate namespaces or unctions and values
 while Scheme has a single namespace. A particular subseto Common Lisp is not ar o at all rom Scheme—the revi-
sions to make it Scheme would encompass only some small
syntactic changes, the namespace collapsing, and the ad-
dition o continuations. Suppose our sotware Eliot made
those revisions on the advice o our sotware Pound: would

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