Sunday, 12 December 2021

Responsible Building

This has happened before, but it continues to amuse (and scare) me when a decent quote or blog post crosses my desk and when I look up the author it turns out to be me of the past.

Today I was sent a statement about sustainable and responsible building, which I am mostly reproducing here for the sake of posterity:

For me, building responsibly means thinking about the future by making careful and sometimes difficult decisions in the present. What we build today should be simple and documented, because tomorrow we are going to need to understand it. What we build today should be designed well, because tomorrow we are going to need to add features. What we build today should be well tested, because tomorrow we are going to need to modify it with confidence. 

It also applies to our working practices. Are we pushing ourselves to the point of future burnout? Are we building too much, beyond what we can maintain? Are we showing respect for ourselves and those who come after us? Ultimately, are we proud to invite new people into our working environment?

The quote was originally on the Inside GOV.UK blog back in 2017 and comes with a picture of a (sadly much thinner) me looking sweet and naive, before being ground down by The World for four long years.

Would I change anything here? Not much to be honest. The points are foundational rather than hugely challenging. They talk about people, although I would invert the priority these days. The only thing I missed was the environmental impact of any built systems. So good job, past me.

There is also the topic of ethics in software engineering - something I've written lots about, but not posted because I'm struggling to get it down in a coherent way. The original context of the question did not really invite comment in that area, but a more general statement about responsible engineering should definitely discuss whether one should do something, as well as whether one can.

Anyway, this is a short post mostly to capture that quote here.

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