Alistair Cockburn

Redefining Software Engineering
58 minutes, 27mb, recorded 2006-11-28
Scott C Lemon, Alistair Cockburn

The term "software engineering" was first coined in 1968 and was originally meant to be provocative, that software needed to be developed with processes similar to those used in engineering. Phil and Scott discuss software development with Alistair Cockburn, one of the creators of the Agile Development Manifesto for software creation.

Alistair first reviews his experiences with Chinese, Japanese, and Scandinavian developers and how well they might be able to work within a more open development system. His key question to the group was "Can you bring your boss bad news?" The results might be surprising.

The group then turns to a more general definition of software engineering. Alistair discusses its three foundations, particularly in relation to engineering: that it is a craft, that it is a cooperative game of communication and invention, and that its ideas and decisions are similar to a manufacturing line. Alistair talks about his articles and courses on the subject and reviews how it applies to reflective conversation and the importance of feedback loops to the process.


Alistair Cockburn (pronounced "Co-burn") is an internationally renowned project witchdoctor and IT strategist. He is best known for describing Software development as a cooperative game, for helping craft the Agile Development Manifesto , for finally defining Use Cases and for developing the Initial Response Technique massage form. A hardware designer for flight simulators visuals in the 1970s,

Alistair worked in IBM's Zurich Research Center on advanced development environments and then joined the IBM Consulting Group to design a software development methodology for IBM's object-oriented projects in 1991. That work, plus the projects he helped lead in different countries, led to him becoming a world authority on agile software development, use cases, adaptive development processes, and project management, in addition to object-oriented design.

Dr. Cockburn helped write the 2001 Manifesto for Agile Software Development and also the 2005 project management "Declaration of Interdependence." He created the Crystal family of ultralight, human-centric methodologies to capture the patterns of successful project teams of different sizes. He is the author of "Surviving Object-Oriented Projects," "Writing Effective Use Cases," "Agile Software Development" and "Crystal Clear: A Human Powered Methodology for Small Teams." Dr. Cockburn has used his own agile techniques in projects of all types, from house construction to conference organization, from book publishing, to software development.

Co-host Scott C. Lemon is CTO of MediaForge - a next generation viral marketing and web enhancement company - and founder of HumanXtensions - an Internet R&D company. Scott's recent history in the computer industry include several small start-ups, along with being Chief Technologist at SCO, Chief Strategist at Vultus, and holding numerous positions during his four tours of duty at Novell. Scott's expertise ranges from computer and wireless hardware technologies, to networking and distributed software applications. As a futurist studying the patterns of evolution, his past experiences in operating systems - CP/M, DOS, Windows, OS/2, NetWare, UNIX, Linux and others - is allowing him to explore the new levels of abstractions provided by the Internet.



This free podcast is from our Technometria with Phil Windley series.

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