Novels, Yes And Improv Comedy

May 25th, 2013

So, here’s the insight I’m currently tossing around in my head: The problem is that software isn’t built; it’s written. The final product is not like the Bay Bridge. It’s like a novel. – Don’t build. Compose. – Kurt Leafstrand

No, that’s not right.

As appealing as it is. You see novels, modern novels, are a particularly peculiar form of creativity primarily characterized by being the point of view and output of a single individual. Most software, and most bridges, aren’t like that.

Maybe you’re writing novels, but most of us are doing improv theater.

2 responses to “Novels, Yes And Improv Comedy”

  1. nathan hruby says:

    Isn’t the notion of the “solitary genius” kind of a convenient trap though? One that the technology culture tends to embrace? See also: every job posting with the word “rockstar” or “ninja” in it, most flamewars, and anyone deemed “invaluable” due to the reliance of a critical system on the person.

    Even years after the introduction of Open Source as a concept larger than a licensing model, I think getting to the point of “doing improv theatre” is something the vast majority of organizations are just now trying to come to terms with culturally.

  2. Shaun F says:

    I dunno about this. I’m an improv comedian and I’m a software developer/architect/whatever. Where does the improv piece come in on this? With improv theater you have plot, narrative, patterns, character development, object work etc. Do these devices have a sibling within the software development world? (I know i’m being a jerky here; i am just being an engineer about a messy creative analog here :)

    I’m not really sure there is a corollary to the art and process of creating and writing software that exists out there in the world. Painting, Writing Novels, Short Stories, Theater, improv, Standup, Performance Art, music. They all are ultimately fit into “expression”.

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