Sapient Testing Rules

Hey, somebody at AST must have read my blog when I coined the term “sapient testing“, because they named their magazine after it.

I’m still waiting for people to pick up on my other coinage: mythomimetic, which is an adjective meaning “not informed by experience or wisdom, but rather hearsay and wishful thinking.” I’ll use it in a sentence: “The speaker peppered his talk with mythomimetic cliches such as ‘you can’t control what you can’t measure’.”

Sapient testing is the antithesis of mythomimetic test automation.

6 thoughts on “Sapient Testing Rules

  1. Hi James,
    I’m the managing editor of Sapient Testing, and I just thought I’d confirm what you already know. We totally lifted the title of AST’s official magazine from your ideas. We wanted it to be clear from the very first issue of the magazine that we were in the context driven camp of software testing. Hopefully the content of the magazine will always live up to the expectation created by the title and consistently deliver “Smart Stuff for Career Software Testers.”

    If any of your readers are not members of AST, they should know the magazine is available for download for free from the link in James’s post above.



    [James’ Reply: Woo hoo!]

  2. Sapience is the antithesis of rote.

    Analogy from music: Suzuki (he of the “Suzuki Method”) said, of musical practice, something like “five minutes spent joyfully is superior to an hour spent grudgingly”.

    When the tester is mentally present in a high-quality way, results are of high value. People get bored, they get habituated, they copy stuff they don’t understand (especially true on multiple levels when I look at some test automation scripts!). People mislead themselves and one another.

    A lot of people get stuck in music lessons without being connected to either joy or to the value of being absorbed in a particular aspect so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

    A lot of good mind bandwidth is wasted in SQA through analogous absences: rote, routine, checkbox-ticking, platitudes, not really understanding the value of other test paradigms and lack of perspective. Or they stay stuck, absorbed in one aspect so they don’t feel overwhelmed — but they don’t get *that* perspective and they think their music is all about matching the metronome, or cramming as many notes into the measure as they can, or maybe it’s about getting the notes down on the page…

    I can still produce startlement just by describing the Tripos model to most folks. Jazz, baby. Jazz.

  3. We in context driven testing community, practice a *specific* brand of testing that is distinct from other forms of testing practiced generally. We treat testing as human intellectual and investigative activity. How does such a tester distingushes himself/herself from the rest?

    I was searching for some name to identify the philosohy of testing we all subscribe to and practice. I somehow felt that “Context driven” tester was representing that. So was “Rapid Tester” or “Exploratory Tester”.

    I can now say to the world that “I am a sapient tester”.

    Thank you James for giving all of us a brand name, name and renewed identity.


    [James’ Reply: A lot of people think the key idea of context-driven testing is “use the right practice for the situation”. But that’s not really the key idea, it’s just the opening idea. The real key to it is the implication that immediately follows: you must learn how to determine whether a practice fits a situation and how to re-design it to accommodate. That’s the sapience part!] 

  4. James, could you offer help to people like me whose second language is English by letting us know how you pronounce it or how you wish it is pronounced ?

    mythomemetic – I currently read and pronounce it this way – mytho ( as in myth O )- meme ( mey mey ) – tic ( like automa-tic )

    [James’ reply: Actually I just realized that I spelled it wrong. It should be “mythomimetic”. With an “i”. I have now updated it in the original post.

    It’s pronounced MITH-oh-mim-EH-tik. Accents are on the first and fourth syllables. All the i’s are short, as in “his”.] 

  5. And here I thought that “mytho” + “memetic” was what you meant. Since a myth is a kind of meme I thought you were deliberately “piling on” similar meanings. Thanks, the revised spelling renders much of my first (lost) post in this thread non-necessary.

    [James’ Reply: Yeah, that’s why I got confused. Memes were stuck in my head. The root word is actually mimesis which means “Imitation of another person’s words, mannerisms, actions, etc.” I first came across the word in Toynbee’s Study of History, and interestingly the O.E.D. identifies Toynbee as the first to use mimesis in the sense of one cultural group copying another more successful one (which is also part of my usage).] 

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