Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It is not always what it seems

While reading this book from Oliver Sacks: "The man who mistook his wife for a hat: and other clinical tales" I was triggered by the chapters who are dealing with losses. In those chapters stories are told about people who have to feeling they are loosing some parts of their mind or body. or they even don't know they are missing capabilities.

What I learned from those stories was that obvious simple identified losses can lead to different judgements. It is obvious to say when a person is not able to use an arm the arm is not functioning. When looking more in detail you can learn more from it. There might be other symptoms who can help to create the proper judgement.

I noticed in software testing we also make judgements. Sometimes under time pressure wrong judgements. I can imagine that those conclusions are drawn based on experience and learned methods/tricks. This is a pitfall we all live in. We should be aware when making judgements and exposing them to others that we question ourselves if the conclusion is based on the symptoms, symptoms combined with experience or s our experience leading.

There can be more reasons why things are failing. There might be other directions we have to look at. I think it is human nature combined with experience that we are tending to look at complex situations. In the mentioned book a quote was used to remember us that we are missing the obvious things.

In chapter three Oliver Sacks quotes the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: "The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something - because it is always before one's eyes.) The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all. Unless that fact has at some time struck him. - And this means: we fail to be struck by what, once seen, it most striking and most powerful. "

While reading this book I noticed that things can be different then they are. We can learn and should learn also from other disciplines. I would recommend this book to all other testers not to become a neuropsychology specialist, but to reshape your vision. It might help you when you make judgements to rethink them before you expose them. I believe that looking at other disciplines and combining/ translating them to software testing can help you (re-)define you borders of testing.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeroen. This is so true in so many ways. We - as testers - should be open-minded and learn from different disciplines where possible. This helps us to rethink assumptions we previously took for granted. If you take a look at my bookshelf these days you would find books by Ken Robinson (The Element), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan: impact of the highly improbable). These books aren't about testing at all, but they will help me make more accurate models of the world around me(and of software as well). These better models will help me make better decisions and refine my judgement. They will help me be more creative as well. Or so I hope :-)