My Life As A Blog

What do you mean?

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After talking to a few people about my post on the term “technical debt” and reading the comments, I thought some more about how we could come up with a better term. My first thought was that the mismatch here is between intended meaning and received meaning, which reminded me of intentional fallacy.

Intentional fallacy is a term from literary criticism which states that it is a fallacy to consider the author’s intention when analysing a work of literature (the fallacy refers to the intent of the author.) What does that mean if you’re an author? It means that all meaning is contained within the work, what you meant to say has no bearing. The lesson for us is that we should consider ourselves in the same position, that what we mean is what those to whom we speak understand – which may not be what we intended. Of course, part of the issue here is that we may be speaking to differing communities and they may understand the same message in different ways.

My experience to date is that, in general, we can do much better explaining software development and architectural issues to non-technical communities. I’ve frequently seen blame attached to those who “don’t get it.” The lesson of intentional fallacy is that they got the message we delivered.


Written by remark

March 30, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Architecture, General

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