The Programmers' Stone



Adams, Scott

The Dilbert Future

ISBN 0-7522-1118-8

Very funny and perceptive. A lot of nonsense is talked about Adams. Some say that he has failed to champion the cause of cubicle dwellers. As far as I know, he has never claimed to be the cubicle dwellers' champion - just a very funny cartoonist. Others say that he is a terrible, cynical person. This is because he documents workplace stupidity with staggering accuracy. All of the pomposity, dishonesty, bullying and ritualism is there. The end section of this book, about affirmations etc. should make your hair stand on end.

Brookes, Frederick P.

The Mythical Man-Month

Addison Wesley
ISBN 0-201-00650-2

Generally recognised as the most sensible guide to running practical, effective software projects, Brookes' every observation seems to have been thrown out by the ISO9001 ritual fixing zombies. This is why commercial software production is stagnant.

DeMarco, Tom & Lister, Timothy

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

Dorset House
ISBN 0-932633-05-6

Common sense observations regarding making effective software projects. The best bits are the railing against open-plan offices. In Reciprocality, open-plan can be seen as desirable because ritual fixers love to regard one anothers' ritualised movements all day, and the endlessly ringing phones don't cause a problem, because no-one thinks anyway. Also look out for the comments on "jelled teams" and "professionalism" which is exposed as a euphemism for smirking pomposity.

Degrace, Peter & Stahl, Leslie Hulet

The Olduvai Imperative

Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-220104-6

The authors set out to write a book about CASE tools, and discovered the vast spaces waiting to be explored when we ask what we are really doing when we make software. I don't think the "Greeks vs. Romans" split they propose works too well, but they do introduce the idea that there are two distinct approaches.

Feynman, Richard P.

Feynman Lectures on Computation

Addison Wesley
ISBN 0-20148991-0

All good, but particularly the sections on Charles Bennett and the energy value of information. This book was stuck in legal wrangles for 10 years, but now we can get Feynman's words on this remarkable result, so essential in Reciprocality.

Gamma, Erich et. al.

Design Patterns: Elements of reusable Object-Oriented Software

Addison Wesley
ISBN 0-201-63361-2

The book on design patterns. Emphasises the compositional aspects of software design - the bit M0 victims can't do. Very handy on sites where the M0 reductionist misinterpretation of ISO9001 has got entirely out of hand. You just reference the pattern (by name) in the Architectural Design Document, and talk about details in the Detailed Design Document. This produces a useful document that doesn't prevent good composition by requiring the design to fit into an imbecilic, mandatory document structure created by people who can't understand what composition is, but are determined to stop it!

Goldratt, Eliyahu M & Cox, Jeff

The Goal

ISBN 0-566-07418-4

Fairy stories about how our heros manage to think around M0 and solve problems, instead of being driven off site with their stuff in binliners, which is what would really happen.

Goldratt, Eliyahu M.

It's Not Luck

ISBN 0-566-07637-3

More fairy stories.

Hohmann, Luke

Journey of the Software Professional

Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-236613-4

As far as anyone could go towards the Programmers' Stone while retaining M0 paradigm and language. The closest thing to the Programmers' Stone in print. The Journey of the title is of course, Hermetic.

Levy, Steven


ISBN 0-14-023269-9

How the "clearly very stupid" people changed the world. Starring Anukin Gates as the young Darth Vader. (Fact: In 1978 I bought a Microsoft product called EDAS for TRS-80 Model I. It was such rubbish I used it to write it's replacement and threw it away. The musicassette tape it came on was too small to hold anything useful. It's lineal descendent is called MASM.)

Naur, Peter

Computing: A Human Activity

ACM Press
ISBN 0-201-58069-1

Wise words from the dawn of time. How could it possibly be anything other than a human activity, but people have forgotten this.

Schwartz, Howard S.

Narcissistic Process and Corporate Decay

New York University Press
ISBN 0-8147-7938-7

Describes M0 in commercial settings in a Freudian model. The model is largely correct of course - M0 rather than infantile memories is where the motivational and delusional structure comes from.

Senge, Peter M.

The Fifth Discipline

Random House
ISBN 0-7126-5687-1

M0 free business thinking. Introduces "Sengian Patterns", which I reckon M0 victims will not be able to spot in real world situations.

Spencer-Brown, George

Laws of Form

E. P Dutton
ISBN 0-525-47544-3

A cult classic amongst hackers nearly 30 years ago, also referenced in Robert Anton Wilson's "Universe Next Door" books.

Weinberg, Gerald M.

The Psychology of Computer Programming

Van Nostrand Reinhold
ISBN 0-442-20764-6

This ancient text still hasn't been bettered. No-one dare look for some reason.

White, Michael

Isaac Newton - The Last Sorcerer

Fourth Estate
ISBN 1-85702-416-8

White doesn't seem to understand that alchemy is a transformation of the operator - mapping - but his journalism is excellent so you can draw your own conclusions from his data.

Yourdon, Edward

Decline and Fall of the American Programmer

Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13203670-3

I've not yet seen the second edition. The offshore problem didn't happen, because programming isn't the kind of context-free proceduralism people think can be done well in open plan offices. Sets out the dreary predictability of the standard management stupidity rituals in M0 shops.