Thursday, February 05, 2009

Beautiful Architecture: my survey

In my last post, I alluded to my efforts to read more intentionally and admitted that I chose to jump off of the wagon at nearly the first opportunity. I haven't abandoned my attempt, and I thought it might be worth sharing some of my thoughts and notes as I survey[0] Beautiful Architecture

The first thing that jumped out at me is a statement on the page before the ToC: "All royalties from this book will be donated to Doctors Without Borders." While this has nothing to do with the text, I appreciate passion and commitment. Being willing to make a commitment like this strikes a chord with me.

Moving on to the table of contents, I found that each chapter is an essay from a different person or team. I recognized some, but not all of them. Who are they? Why did Diomidis and Georgios select them? This isn't a knock on the book, but a recognition that I need to do some studying to understand who these people are and why I should be listening to them. Perhaps knowing more about their backgrounds will also help me better understand their positions (and biases) and improve the value of the book to me.

Some of the chapter titles stand out to me as well. "A Tale of Two Systems: a Modern-Day Software Fable", "Data Grows Up: The Architecture of the Facebook Platform", "When the Bazaar Sets Out to Build Cathedrals", and "Rereading the Classics" all evoke a desire to dig into them and see what they have to say to me.

As I step into the preface, I start to find some questions that I really want to find the answers to:

  • How will architecture impact the my role in infrastructure and operations?
  • How should I approach data centricity vs. application centricity?
  • What can I learn from functional programming/architectural approaches?
  • What trade-offs should I be looking at between stability, extensibility, performance, and aesthetics?
  • How do I define beautiful architecture, and do I see that beauty in my projects or the systems I work on in my day job?
I'm not sure where I'll come out on the other end of this book, but it looks like it's going to be a fun ride.

Pragmatic Thinking and Learning recommends a five step approach to reading that Andy calls SQ3R — Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. Not only does this look like a great idea, it reminds me of the SPQR shirt I used to where as a classics geek in high school, so you know I've got to try it.

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