Posts Tagged ‘visual metaphors’

About (Software) Quality

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

When I attended the University of Leiden Software-Development was in its infancy. In 1969 just a few people were programming for the simple reason that the amount of computers was very low. It took a lot of time (many weeks), intelligence and perseverance to create a small working software-program.

At that time the effect of a software-program on other people was very low. Software-programs were used by the programmers themselves to solve their own problems.

When User-Interfaces, Databases and Telecommunication appeared it became possible to create software for Many Non-Programmers, Users. The software-systems got bigger and programmers had to cooperate with other programmers.

When the step from One-to-Many was made in the process of software-development and exploitation, Software-Quality became on very important issue.

What is Software?

A Software-program is a sequence of sentences written in a computer-language. When you speak and write you use a natural language. When you write a computer program you use an artificial, designed, language.

The difference between natural and artificial languages is small. Esperanto is a constructed language that became a natural language. Perhaps all the natural languages were constructed in the past.

Software programs are very detailed prescriptions of something a computer has to do. The specifications of a software-program are written in a natural language (Pseudo-Code, Use-Case).

To create Software we have to transform Natural Language into Structured Language. The big problem is that Natural Language is a Rich Language. It not only contains Structural components but is also contains Emotional (Values), Imaginative ((Visual) Metaphors) and Sensual Components (Facts). The most expressive human language is Speech.

In this case the Tonality of the Voice and the Body Language also contains a lot of information about the Sender. When you want to create Software you have to remove the Emotional, Imaginative and Sensual components out of Human Language.

What is Quality?

According to the International Standards Organization (ISO), Quality is “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements“. According to the ISO the quality of a software-program is the degree in which the software-coding is in agreement with its specification.

Because a specification is written in natural language, Quality has to do with the precision of the transformation of one language (the natural) to another language (the constructed).

According to Six Sigma Quality is the number of defects of an implementation of the specification of the software.

Another view on Quality is called Fitness for Use. It is this case Quality is “what the Customer wants” or “What the Customer is willing to pay for“.

If you look carefully at all the Views on Quality, the Four World Views of Will McWhinney appear.

Six Sigma is the Sensory View on Quality (Facts), ISO is the Unity View on Software (Procedures, Laws, Rules) and Fitness for Use is the Social View on Quality (Stakeholders).

The last worldview of McWhinney, the Mythic, the View of the Artist, is represented by the Aesthetical view on Quality. Something is of high quality when it is Beautiful.

The Four Perspectives of McWhinney look at something we name “Quality”. We can specify the concept “Quality” by combining the Four definitions or we can try to find out what is behind “the Four Views on Quality”.

The Architect Christopher Alexander wrote many books about Quality. Interesting enough he named the “Quality” behind the Four Perspectives the “Quality without a Name“. Later in his life he defined this Quality, the “Force of Life“.

What Happened?

In the beginning of software-development the Artists, the Mythics, created software. Creating high quality software was a craft and a real challenge. To create, a programmer had to overcome a high resistance.

The “creative” programmers solved many problems and shared their solutions. Software-development changed from an Art into a Practice. The Many Different Practices were Standardized and United into one Method. The Method made it possible for many people to “learn the trade of programming”.

When an Art turns into a Method, the Aesthetic, the Quality that Has No Name, Life Itself, disappears. The Controller, Quality Management (ISO), has tried to solve this problem and has given many names to the Quality without a Name. Many Aspects of Software Quality are now standardized and programmed into software.


It is impossible to Program the Social Emotions and the Mythic Imagination.


Software developers don’t use Methods and Standards because deep within they are Artists. The big difference is that they don’t solve their own problems anymore. They solve the problems of the users that are interviewed by the designers.


The Users don’t want the Designers to tell the Programmers to create something they want to create themselves (the Not-Invented Here Syndrome). They also don’t know what the programmers, instructed by the designers will create, so they wait until the programmers are finished and tell them that they want something else.

What Went Wrong?

The first Computer, the Analytical Engine of Charles Babbage, contained four parts called the Mill (the Central Processing Unit, the Operating System), the Store (the database), the Reader, and the Printer. The Analytical Engine and his successors were based on the Concept of the Factory.

In a Factory the Users, the Workers, The Slaves, have to do what the Masters, the Programmers, tell them to do.The Scientists modeled successful programmers but they forgot to model one thing, the Context. At the time the old fashioned programming artists were active, software was made to support the programmer himself. The programmer was the User of his Own software-program.

At this moment the Factory is an “old-fashioned” concept. In the Fifties the Slaves started to transform into Individuals but the Factory-Computer and the Practices of the Old Fashioned Programmers were not abandoned.

To cope with the rising power of the Individual the old methods were adopted but the old paradigm of the Slave was not removed. The Slave became a Stakeholder but his main role is to act Emotionally. He has the power to “Like or to Dislike” or “To Buy or not to Buy”.

The big Mistake was to believe that it is possible to program Individuals.

What To Do?

The Four Worldviews of Quality Move Around Life Itself.

According to Mikhail Bakhtin Life Itself is destroyed by the Process of Coding (“A code is a deliberately established, killed context“).

When you want to make software you have to keep Life Alive.

The Paradigm-Shift you have to make is not very difficult. Individual Programmers want to make Software for Themselves so Individual Users want to Do the Same!

At this moment the Computer is not a tool to manage a factory anymore. It has become a Personal tool.

It is not very difficult to give individuals that Play the Role of Employee tools to Solve their own Problems.

When they have solved their own problems they will Share the Solutions with other users.

If this happens their activities will change from an Individual Act of Creation into a Shared Practice.

If People Share their Problems and Solutions, their Joy and their Sorrow, they Experience the Spirit,  the Force of Life, the Quality that has no Name.


How to Analyze a Context

About the Human Measure

About the Autistic Computer

About the Worldviews of Will McWhinney

About Christopher Alexander

About Computer Languages

About Mikhail Bahtin

About Ontologies

About Model Driven Software Development

About the Illusion of Cooperation

About the Analytic Engine of Charles Babbage

About the Analytic Engine of Thomas Fowler

About Human Scale Tools

About Old-Fashioned Programming

About Alchemy

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

alchemyWhen I studied Chemistry at the University of Leiden I wanted to learn more about “Ancient Chemistry“.

At that time I really did not understand the Symbolism behind Alchemy. This changed a few years later when I encountered Jung. Suddenly Alchemy moved to the Social Sciences.

At this moment I am convinced modern Mathematics and Physics are exploring the same issue Jung and many others Alchemists were exploring.

The Material World and the Spiritual World are both based on the same principles. They only operate on different Levels.

When you understand one level it is not so difficult to map this level to another level. The real big problem is to map the simplicity of the parts to the complexity of the Whole.

Human understanding is based on our Imagination. When you are not capable to visualize the Parts and the Whole you are lost. The old Alchemist understood this problem and they produced many visual metaphors to help the explorer of the Spiritual Domain.

ouroborosThe most important unifying concept in Alchemy is represented by the Snake Ouroboros. The Snake is “Eating Itself“.

When you try to imagine what is happening you will understand that the Snake will be spiraling inwards until it simply vanishes.

You also could imagine that the Snake appears again in another “space” where it starts to spiral outwards until it moves back to our reality.

By “eating itself” the Snake is “compressed” into what is now called a “singularity” (A Black Hole).

klein bottleIn the other (Imaginary) world the Snake expands and spirals through another hole (A White Hole) back into Our Reality.

The Imaginary Universe is the Twin Universe of Our Universe.

If the Imaginary Universe is represented by the Complex or Imaginary Numbers there is also an In-Between or Joint Universe.

This Universe existst in a higher dimension. We are able to experience the Real Part of the Numbers. Our Twins only see the Imaginary parts.

The aim of the process of Alchemy is to move through the singularity to another Space/Time. In this Space/Time you are “immortal”. This Space/Time is the Imaginary World of Mathematics, the Complex Plane.

holy weddingTo Reach the World of Immortality You have to Unite the Opposites. Alchemy uses many Metaphors to show how this is accomplished. One of them is the Holy Wedding. In the Holy Wedding the Male and the Female Unite.

It is very important to understand what the Alchemists meant with the Male and the Female. Of course the first interpretation is simply the Human Male and the Human Female.

In this case the Holy Wedding is a sexual metaphor. The Male and the Female Unite when they have Sexual Intercourse.

In Sacred Sexual Intercourse, Tantra, something called the Kundalini, the Serpent Power, is activated.

Awakening the Kundalini without a good Preperation (Psychological Cleaning) and a Good Guidance is very dangerous.

The Rising of the Kundalini will generate tremendous energies (Extreme Heating) and intense Psychological Disturbances, the Kundalini-Syndrome.

Although Sacred Sexual Intercourse is a very powerful tool for Enlightment it is still not the Right Metaphor.

The Male and the Female have to be seen as complementary functions. The Male represents Order/Control and the Female Chaos/Desire. The complementary functions are independent of the sexes. A Female Human is perfectly able to act with a (Dominant) Male Pattern.

Uniting Male and Female is accomplished when you Live on the Edge (in the Middle) of Control/Order and Chaos/Desire (Wu-Wei). When Chaos and Order are in Balance the Union of Both Forces, The Void (also called the Tao), takes over and Synchronicity starts to Happen. The Human Action is Guided by a Higher Force, the Holy Spirit.

pentagleThe Human can also be viewed as a FiveFold Being (The Pentagram). In this case the Human is a combination of Male/Male (Control), Female/Female (Desire) AND Male/Female and Female/Male.

At the Center (In the Middle, At the Cross) of the Four Combinations is always the One, The Void. Most of the time the “new” combinations are called Soul and Spirit.

To Understand this process a little bit better we will change the Metaphor of the Sexes to the Metaphor of the Movements (Up & Down, Inside & Outside). The Opposite Movements are a Tension, that is Voided in the Middle.

Inside Outside
Up Up/Inside (Spirit) Up/Outside (Control)
Down Down/Inside (Soul) Down/Outside (Desire)

When there are Four Movements in Action, there are Six Ways to Integrate the Two Opposites and there are many more ways to combine the Six Ways into a Four Fold Integration. One of the most effectives ways to do this is to travel the Matrix in a Circular Motion(○) With or Against the Clock or by Circulating the Cross following the Pattern of the Moebius Ring (∞) also With or Against the Clock.

To move from the Mortal to the Immortal, Timeless, Domain we have to apply the Ouroboros-pattern. This is accomplished by connecting the Circulations of the Circle or the Moebius Ring at the Singularity, The Middle of the Cross. The circulations move against or with the Clock.

We are now moving from a 2-dimensional Matrix to a 3-dimensional Cube. To avoid confusion we have to define a third terminology for the two opposite Movements. In many cultures the directions of the Winds are used (East, West, North, South) combined with Up and Down but it is up to You to find other Terms.

It is still possible to visualize this structure in 3-dimensional space. This structure is called by the Topologists, The Klein Botlle. The Klein Bottle is a connection of two complementary Moebius Rings with the Void in the Middle.

There are of course other metaphors available to explain what is “happening”. The most interesting ia a Physical Metaphor. It is called the Holographic Universe.

In the Holographic Universe the Hologram is used as a methaphor. A Hologram is a 3-dimensional picture stored in a rotating 2-dimensional structure. A “grain of sand” could contain the complete image of the Universe.

In the Holographic Universe Time is not Linear or Cyclic. The Now expands into the Past and the Future. We are able to change the Past and the Future with our Imagination. Time Travel is possible if we are able to find the same point in the Multi-Universe we started our Travel. The Humans also exists in many Space/Times at the same Moment, The Now.

We are able to see with our (Higher) Conscioussnes the Complete Network of Time Loops that are enfolding in the weird structure that has no Inside and Outside.

Many people still live in the Hierarchical Word, where the Movements are always going Up. They believe in a beginning and an end and believe that every Cause has an Effect. Some people, The Holists (New Age), moved from the Outside to the Inside. To them everything is Energy and Reality is a Circle. They are the people of Soul and Spirit. The Holists believe in the Wheel of Karma or the Wheel of Destiny.

The new Age of Aquarius will be a completely different world. We, the Humans, are not moving around in the Merry Go Round that is created by the Gods. We will be the Co-Creators of the Creative Force that is in the Center of the Wheel.

We are the Whole AND the Part. We are the Cycle AND we are Not the Cycle. We will take part in a new enfolding of the Self-Reference, that is Whole and Empty.

Hierarchical Cyclic Holographic
Movements are always going Up Movements go Up and Down Self-Reference
Triangle/Pyramid/Cube/Tube Circle/Torus Moebius Ring/Klein Bottle
Causal/Linear Cyclic/Spiraling Closed in Itself
Creation Compression/Expansion Enfolding
Evolution Growth and Decay Continuous Creation
Outside Inside and Outside No Inside and Outside
Part/Whole Wave Fractal
Everything is Different Everything is the Same (Make a) Difference
Individual Collective Whole
Control/Desire Soul/ Spirit Center



About the Kundalini Syndrome

About the Klein Bottle and Alchemy

About our Imaginary Twin Universe

About the Relationship between Alchemy, Tantra and The Gnostics

About the Holy Wedding

All You Want to Know About Alchemy

About Alchemy

The Gnostic Science of Alchemy

Dimension of Apeiron by Steven M. Rosen