How will we escape the current Dark Age of Programming? What will trigger a Software Renaissance? History tells us that major intellectual shifts usually arise not from lone geniuses but from subcultures that suddenly coalesce in a burst of invention and discovery. I have found an interesting book that looks at the group dynamics of such subcultures: Collaborative Circles: Friendship Dynamics & Creative Work by Michael P. Farrell (suggested by Patrick Collison). From the blurb:
Many artists, writers, and other creative people do their best work when collaborating within a circle of like-minded friends. In a unique study, Michael P. Farrell looks at the group dynamics in six collaborative circles, and gives vivid narrative accounts of each: the French Impressionists; Sigmund Freud and his friends; C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings; social reformers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony; the Fugitive poets; and the writers Joseph Conrad and Ford Maddox Ford.
Farrell presents a systematic description of how such collaborative circles arise and develop. I’ve been trying for years to organize various sorts of groups to advance progress in programming, following the established topography of academic organizations like workshops and working groups. Farrell’s book presents a roadmap to an entirely different terrain: the informal underground rebellions where breaking changes actually happen. Much to consider…
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