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The boy Scout and the Mountain Man

 
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It seems to me that there are two approaches to going of into the wilderness. In no particular order, I've named them The boy Scout and the Mountain Man .

The Boy scout is prepared for every eventuality. He brings all the food, tools, implements of construction, and whatnot, that he could need. He is disciplined, educated, and, well...prepared. You will not catch him off guard. On the other hand, he's reluctant to go into Territories that's too far out there, because that requires a degree of preparation that he is, by definition, not ready to embrace. If he were, then it would, by definition, not really be too far out there.

The mountain man, on the other hand, doesn't really prepare much. He has some basic tools, a good set of boots, and general understand of how wild territory works. He's confident in his ability to adjust, forage, and live off the land. He doesn't do quite as well in predictable situations as the Boy scout, but he really shines when he's out there. As a matter of fact, he has no intrinsic fear of going out there, because it's not really that different from way he lives in here. He'll still have to forage for food, live off the land, all that.

It seems to me that there are parallels to this in the software world. You have people who know a given technology, a given problem domain, and a given set of tools. In that area, they are the boy scout, and they are incredibly valuable.

However, there is another class of software guy. The general problem solving guy. He's probably good with any given technology, and he's able to figure out new one. He doesn't have any more loyalty to XYZ then a carpenter has to his hammer. They're all just tools to him, and he's just as genuinely happy using a new tool as he is using an older one. This guy, he's your mountain man, and he's able to live off the land.

Lot a lot of people here, I'm a working programmer. Yes, I write books and speak and such, but at the end of the day, I make my living exactly like the majority of people here: with a keyboard and some late nights. I've noticed that as I progress through my software career, I started out like a mountain man, then came to be a pretty good boy scout. However, I think I'm heading back to the mountain. It reminds of a quote by Bruce Lee.

Before I studied the art, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. Once I began practicing the art, a punch was no longer a punch and a kick no longer just a kick. Once I understood the art a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick

I think I'm starting to understand the art.
[ February 15, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
 
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Hm, I don't have much experience with going into the wilderness, not even observing other doing this. But I had similar observations about me and my coworkers in Russia going on a business trip, which in Russia is about the same as going into the wilderness . My tactics was definitely what you call "The boy Scout" and my male coworkers were "Mountain Men". I always envied them and tried to make my bags slimmer with every new trip. Still was far from the optimum (a teethbrush and a couple pieces of underwear).
[ February 15, 2005: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
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I think there is another aspect that may have some similarities to software development. In preperation to go into the wilderness the 'Boy Scout' gathers all the tools he can, packs everything up, and brings it along, if he thinks he might need it he grabs it. The 'Mountain Man' understands that whatever he wants to bring he also has to carry and each item he packs adds more weight to his pack so he chooses his tools/equipment very carefully before heading out. I would also suggest that the Mountain Man understands his tools with a much greater depth than the Boy Scout.
 
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
It seems to me that there are two approaches to going of into the wilderness. In no particular order, I've named them The boy Scout and the Mountain Man ...



I think you may be forgetting the 3rd approach - named "City folk". City folk head out into the wilderness after having seen a TV documentary or read a slim book about it and think its a "neat idea". Unfortunately they are often ill-equiped and poorly prepared and find themsleves getting into trouble and calling on the services of mountain rescue teams etc etc.

Perhaps in your world of analogy - "City folk" = "Managers" - keen to get into it after having been revved up by glossy marketing presentations but blissfully unaware of the potential pitfalls. Of course once things get into trouble the Manager invariably needs to call emergency services in the form of consultant "Mountain Men" or "Boy Scouts"!!
 
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City Folks are not necessarily always managers.

I sort of agree, but does the Mountain Man really go out in the wilderness without preparing? I'd actually say that the later Mountain Man (many years of experience after having been the beginning mountain man, then the Boy Scout, then back, actually does a lot more preparing and planning than the Boy Scout. The Mountain Man's experience allows it to appear that he hasn't planned, but he just doesn't take as long as the Boy Scout would need to plan.

I found more and more, that I want to do as much of the work up front as possible before getting even close to coding. The Analysis phase is so that you can understand what the requirements are, how to accomplish those goals, and who are the participants. The Detail Design Phase is really the place where you should be programming. Not coding in the computer, but designing the classes, the interactions, the interfaces, and even your Unit Test plans. Once that is done, the coding part should be nothing more than just typing what is in the DD diagrams.

Mark
 
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Personally, I prefer the Mountain man approach, when it comes to a career. Deal with what you are given rather then preparing for every eventuality like a Boy Scout and then if you don't get the kinda project you honed your skills for, you get disapoointed. Maybe he's not a good Boy Scout yet.

But life rarely falls into one category or the other, its always a mix of both the Mountain Man approach and the Boy Scout. In my experience when I prepared for everything like a Boy Scout, I didn't have much luck so it was kinda disappointing. So, now I prefer a Mountain Man approach - let's see what is thrown at me and then try to make the best of it.

- m
 
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Hm, I don't have much experience with going into the wilderness, not even observing other doing this. But I had similar observations about me and my coworkers in Russia going on a business trip, which in Russia is about the same as going into the wilderness . My tactics was definitely what you call "The boy Scout" and my male coworkers were "Mountain Men". I always envied them and tried to make my bags slimmer with every new trip. Still was far from the optimum (a teethbrush and a couple pieces of underwear).

[ February 15, 2005: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]



This is indeed a Herculean task! It does seem that its impossible for a person of the female persuasion to go away for a single night without needing three changes of clothing, two pairs of shoes, make up, make up remover, flannel,lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, funny smelling soap, notepad, spare toothbrush, hair brush, hair straightener/curler, tissues, mobile phone, address book, scissors, pencil, pen, mirror, two coats, headache tablets, shampoo, shower gel, sponge, another two pairs of shoes, dressing gown, stuffed animal of unidentifiable breed, cotton wool, at least four handbags (to match the shoes), scarf, gloves, hairdryer, and probably some more shoes.
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Dave Lenton:


This is indeed a Herculean task! It does seem that its impossible for a person of the female persuasion to go away for a single night without needing three changes of clothing, two pairs of shoes, make up, make up remover, flannel,lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, funny smelling soap, notepad, spare toothbrush, hair brush, hair straightener/curler, tissues, mobile phone, address book, scissors, pencil, pen, mirror, two coats, headache tablets, shampoo, shower gel, sponge, another two pairs of shoes, dressing gown, stuffed animal of unidentifiable breed, cotton wool, at least four handbags (to match the shoes), scarf, gloves, hairdryer, and probably some more shoes.



Finally there is somebody who understands us!

Seriously, Alistair Cockburn talks about three stages of learning in his "Agile software development" (the second and the third maps to Max's "The boy Scout and the Mountain Man" terminology nicely, and compares it to Aikido's Shuhari concept.
 
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The Mountain Man is the one that doesn't bathe regularly, right?
 
Max Habibi
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I like to think that the moniker of stinky is applied with love and tenderness, yes.

M
 
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Aikido's Shuhari concept.[/QB]



Which of course is not specific to Aikido, even though the link points to an Aikido site. I think this is what Max was talking about towards the end of his first post.

Interesting topic. Sadly I am neither the Boy Scout, nor the Mountain Man . But I am not one of your City Folks either, so I guess I just need to get out there in the mountains more often
 
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

Finally there is somebody who understands us!



Its more about recent experience then anything else. Last weekend my girlfriend and I went to visit her parents for one night. I was more than happy to put everything I needed into a small carrier bag, but she insisted that we take a suitcase. My stuff took up one small corner, while the entire contents of our bedroom and bathroom seemed to be squashed into the remaining space. :roll:

Its a similar story when we go on holiday - every year I have spare space in my suitcase and her's breaks the 20kg limit. It think its all a female conspiracy to keep us men confused about as much as possible.
[ February 17, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]
 
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