1 December 2005

The Future of Software Architecture

Yesterday evening, I attended a "speaker & discussion event" - The Future of Software Architecture - put together by The Club of Amsterdam. It was held in the offices of Syntens.

The discussion after the speakers covered a wide scope of views. The heart of the discussion wasn't really about software architecture, but more along the lines of people's and society's relationship with business. The core issue about the future of software architecture seemed to lie somewhere between:
.....having enough time to invest in developing real solutions rather than holding the solution hostage by business politics
.....and educational standards that leave children without the knowledge to contribute at a level higher than business tasking.

What I also heard - from those not involved in the field of computer sciences - was a voice for the human factor and the human value system. Is the role of software keeping our children from learning - or is it helping our children learn differently? Should computers reflect our human capacity for emotion? This raised the conversation to another level until one young man tried to turn the discussion into an instrumental talk about learning about software architecture. Thankfully, the group did not want to let go of the more philosophical discussion about the "future of...".

These discourses stimulated by the Club of Amsterdam help to build our knowledge and give us a venue to share our thinking on topical issues. We meet interesting minds, help address the issues in our society, and grow relationships.

In the beginning of the evening, I though "Uh-oh.." when the host started to literally read from a PowerPoint presentation about her company, Syntens. Rather than share why syntens had hosted the evening and what role they play in the context of the subject, she opted for reading a sales pitch. Lost opportunity to engage themselves in the evening.

Thankfully, that ended quickly and Maarten Boasson, a professor at the University of Amsterdam shared his views on the issues of developing software architecture in today's world. Though Maarten didn't hold out many hopes for the future of software architecture, he did address the stumbling blocks to success. Big issue: clients with their own agenda opting for software development based on an already chosen, politically motivated solution, rather than letting the architect develop a solution based on identified parameters guided by the real problem. Another big issue: the academic standards that leave us with a pool of talent that do not have the abilities needed to think about solutions for addressing the real problems.

The second speaker was Maarten Visser, an young and enthusiastic entrepreneurial evangelist for social software and the value it creates for business, people and society. He visually demonstrated the integration of the different layers of technology their construction into web applications and interfaces.

The third speaker, Niek Jetten, presented the issues facing business right now with integrating new systems with legacy systems.

This gave us three completely different perspectives of approach and interest - as well as age.

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