Mike's Reviews > The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering

The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
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Oct 27, 08

bookshelves: development
Read in October, 2008

Durable classic about software development. Articulated in a medium quite tractable to the designs of its creatives, software still exhibits an essential in-tractability that bedevils all but the most trivial of projects. Castles made of sand cannot scale to tide-resistant permanence, they quickly resolve into the native equilibrium of strand and sea. More resolute constructions require more resolute methods.

The book is full of little gems, such as the line "The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned." The author loves his craft, and sometimes nuances his assertions with a decidedly christian bent; the sort of piousness that inspires people to create rather than confuse science and faith, that reveres intelligence and considers it a gift rather than a threat.

Originally published in 1975 the book at times shows its age. One of the more interesting of its anachronisms is the way computer hardware is understood: back then computers were more like an unstable collection of wires and parts that still required specific care. They were large, slow and expensive by today's standards. Our (circa 2008) era of sleek, sexy computerized electronics had not yet been tamed from that earlier wilderness.

When I look at the title too fast I sometimes read "The Mythical Man-Moth" instead and eagerly anticipate stories of the Man-Moth, wondering whether his nocturnal wings carry the day for good or evil.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Nick (new)

Nick At first I was like "what?" and then I was like "religion." and finally I was like "dude, moths."


Mike So, an average day in the life then?

But seriously, thanks for all the comments; it's nice to know someone is reading the stuff.


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