Developing on principle

Few days ago I stumbled upon an inspiring talk by Bret Victor, a former interface and software designer at Apple, on Inventing on Principle. He talks about not only finding something you love in your live and following your passion, but also doing it by a principle. A guiding principle to observe the world in a way that allows to identify if something is wrong and to think on what can be done to fix it.

He calls his guiding principle the media connection. Ideas are very important, like the engine that makes the world to move forward. Ideas evolve into many forms: a song, a painting, or an invention, like a washing machine, to make our life better. But creators need tools to get the work done. That sort of tools that make ideas come out of their heads and convert them into something real. If you are creating something, in any field, and make a decision, you need to have the effect on that immediately to make connections. Think on a painter. Would his creative thinking be harmed if every time he makes a brushstroke he has to wait few seconds, or even minutes to see the results of his action?

As a technologist, you can recognise the wrong in the world, and fight by inventing

We software developers are somewhat caught in the middle. We aim to make useful tools for other people to do their work better, but we also need development tools to create better software. Programming is expressing a particular process in a language a computer can understand, where each program has its own semantic and syntactic rules suitable for each kind of problem. There has been a huge evolution on the development tools since the invention of the firsts computers and every time it’s easier to do anything. The language computer understands is getting closer and closer to ours. But all can be improved, like linking coding and visualization on the same action, to avoid to imagine and run the code in your mind even for a few second.

Following that, our principle may be defined as to develop tools to help our librarians to visualize the brushstroke of their work in order to improve continuously our library.

About this post

This post was first published on LibTechNotes, a blog from the Library team at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya to share our everyday findings, solutions and inspirations.