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Built to Change

Published 8/6/2022

The flow of change is inevitable. Are you building with it, or ignoring it in vane?

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Happy Saturday from the Rare Weekend episode of Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I want to share some inspiration for you. This inspiration is about the way that you think about your code or anything you build or really anything that you're a part of. And specifically this inspiration is intended to get you to hold your code a little more lightly. Hold your architectural plans with a bit of a lighter grasp. Hold whatever plans you have for your career, understanding that they may change at any moment. This quote comes from a book that I recently started reading. It's called How Buildings Learn. It's by Stuart Brand. If you are an architect, not a software architect, but an actual building architect, and you know this book almost certainly, this is apparently a very popular book in that field. And the quote goes like this, a little bit long, so stick with it. Asbestos went from being very good for you to very bad for you, fire codes and building codes discovered new things to worry about. And old buildings were forced to meet the new standards. Access for the disabled, transform toilets, stairs, curbs, elevators. Deterioration is constant in new buildings as much as old. The roof leaks, the furnaces dying, the walls have cracks, the windows are a disgrace. People are getting sick from something in the air conditioning and the whole place is going to have to be redone. And you can't fix a remodel in old place in the old way. Techniques and materials keep changing. Factory hung windows and doors are better than the old site built ones, but they have different shapes. Sheet rock replaces plaster, steel studs replaced wood. You have to have vapor barriers, plastic plumbing, plastic electrical fixtures. It doesn't new forms of insulation. Rock lighting, task lighting, up lighting, and carpet by the acre. The extent of change can be documented in the architectural graphic standards. The American Builders Bible for design and construction details. It was first published in 1932, telling in the hundreds of thousands it was up to its eighth completely revised edition in 1988, with only one part of one of its 864 pages still the same after 56 years. More than half of the 1988 edition was newer revised since the 1981 edition, seven routine years. The book goes on to explain how buildings change over time, even though when we first build them, we imagine that they won't. Does this sound familiar to you? Do you build software with this in mind? Thinking that you've solved the problem once and for all? Maybe you don't build the whole project that way. Maybe you imagine that part of it will change, but almost certainly, if you're like me or like most humans, you imagine that there are parts that are permanent, that they're going to be that way no matter what. The truth is, everything changes. The needs that we have changed, the tools that we have change. If you look at your calendar the same way, if you look at your career plan the same way. If you look at your retirement plan the same way, all of these things will change. Sure, something might match your expectation for a while. You may have been right for one window in time. Things might solve your needs for today, but the truth is, if you were instead to think about your building, whatever that is, with a little bit more of a flexible mindset, then your hand a little bit. Allow things to be built, not only able to change, but accepting and inviting of change. Perhaps when that change inevitably comes, you won't resist it, but instead you'll quickly move through the necessary steps to get to the other side. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Once again, that quote came from the book, How Buildings Learn, What Happens, and the subtitle is What Happens After Their Built. This is perhaps much more important than what happens in order to build them. The book is by Stewart Brand. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. I actually got the inspiration to purchase this book from Ernie Miller. Ernie has been a guest on the show twice. Ernie's current role, and I think this fits him perfectly, is People Empower. He works at Gusto. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode, and until next time, enjoy your weekend, enjoy your tea.