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By James Bach
I’m well known for promoting philosophy. By philosopher, I mean someone skilled in the exploration, analysis and clarification of meaningful ideas and the processes by which we arrive at those ideas. Since software is made of ideas, that sounds like testing to me. So, if you want to be an excellent all-around tester, I think you need to think like a philosopher.
(Of course, I have critics who dispute this, but there’s a funny thing– in order to form a coherent argument against my point of view you would have to do philosophy, and that very process would tend to undermine your credibility. Kinda like beating someone to death to prove that pacificism is best!
If you really believe you don’t need philosophy to be a tester, a more effective move would be to refuse to argue. Just use coercion and manipulation to get your way. This is what most of the certificationists choose to do. The harsh light of reason and open debate is a kind of acid to them.)
Promoting the practice of philosophy in daily work is a somewhat lonely job, because our schools manage to turn it into drab and awful subject. I persist for only one reason: I have a drive to be an excellent tester, and I want to help other testers be excellent, too. Otherwise, I would have given up long ago.
Enter Tawney Gowan. Tawney is a somewhat hyperactive young woman from Montreal who attended my STAR East tutorial called “How to Teach Yourself Testing.” She’s been a tester for a few years, but she recently went back to school to study the history ideas. After the class, she came up to me and complained that my citation of Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigms in scientific revolutions was out of date. I was tickled that she had an opinion on that, since so few testers have read anything about it.
After a few minutes of hearing her rant, I thought I would buy myself some time. So I asked, “Can you put together a reading list of the things you think I need to stufy?”
She replied, “I already have.”

I just think this is cool. It’s the kind of service I need from a colleague. I hope that Tawney stays in testing and starts a blog.
Here’s to testers who are fearless learners!


Category: Testing Culture

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