Neil Robbins

Hi, I'm the lead developer/technical architect responsible for new systems developed for the UK division of Brit Insurance. I've been programming since a very young age starting off with BBC and Atari 8 bit machines and for the last 6 years in the .NET space, principally with C#. Academically my background is in Social Anthropology and Educational Research rather than Computer Science and I think that this leads me to have a particular enjoyment for thinking about the cultures and practice of software development, as well as cutting neat code.

I'm looking forwards to interacting with others and learning from them at the planned event. The joining page invites us to comment on what Software Craftsmanship means to us so I'll throw in my twopence worth, whilst confessing that I haven't read as much on this as I should have. I think an important aspect is the development and application of tacit knowledge over empirical knowledge. Typically when a person is inducted over time into a community of practice that induction is about the internalisation of the norms of the community. This process can lead a person from Apprentice through to Master, an example of this process is found in the way in which dance and music are traditionally learnt. Whilst a certain amount can be learnt from empirical sources, a lot of what makes the difference between a Master and a senior student is in this tacit dimension and is learnt through practice and experience.

In software development I think this is certainly true, through experience, and through working with and learning from others more experienced we develop knowledge that can be hard to articulate, such as 'smells'. This is not to say that these things cannot be articulated, but that reading and learning about these things alone is not sufficient. It requires practice as well.
This leads me to praxis, that after doing things we should reflect on and learn from our activity and that this learning should have as its goal direct relevance to practical action. This of course parallels the kind of Japanese management philosophies such as Kaizen and 5-S model which has had such an influence on the agile movement.

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