What We Read

I staggered out of the Cambridge Press bookstore a bit dazed, today, having gorged on 21 books. [Addendum: I mean by this that I browsed them, purchased them, and had them shipped home.] If you want to know what a Context-Driven tester reads, here it is:

  • A First Course in Statistical Programming with R
  • Wisdom: Its Nature, Origins, and Development
  • Learning and Expanding with Activity Theory
  • Sequential Analysis and Observational Methods for the Behavioral Sciences
  • Observing Interaction: An Introduction to Sequential Analysis
  • Human Error
  • Combinatorics: A Problem Oriented Approach (Mathematical Association of America Textbooks)
  • A Mathematician Comes of Age (Spectrum)
  • The Golem at Large: What You Should Know about Technology (Canto)
  • The Golem: What You Should Know about Science (Canto)
  • A Practical Introduction to Denotational Semantics (Cambridge Computer Science Texts)
  • Dialogic Inquiry: Towards a Socio-cultural Practice and Theory of Education (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)
  • From Teams to Knots: Activity-Theoretical Studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)
  • Nuts and bolts for the social sciences
  • How to Fold It: The Mathematics of Linkages, Origami and Polyhedra
  • The Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology)
  • The Manuscript of Great Expectations: From the Townshend Collection, Wisbech (Cambridge Library Collection – Literary Studies)
  • The Cognitive Basis of Science
  • Satisficing and Maximizing: Moral Theorists on Practical Reason
  • The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology)
  • Risk Communication: A Handbook for Communicating Environmental, Safety, and Health Risks

One of the challenges I have for the ISTQB proponents is “What do you read?” You see it’s a trap. If they tell me they read widely, deeply and liberally, I contrast that with the intellectual desert that is the ISTQB Syllabus and ask them why there is such a disconnect between their education and their professional claims. And if they read narrowly, well, there you go.

If you want to be an excellent tester, you need a good education. You didn’t get that in school (or if you’re in school, you’re not getting it), so you need to do something like what I do: scout for fabulous and offbeat books about all the matters of great testing– and testing touches EVERYTHING!

[addendum: If you are not familiar with my distaste for institutional education, before picking a fight with me, go see my book, Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar. I spent 26 years doing the research by which I assert that school, although not always destructive and occasionally helpful, is certainly not necessary if you want to live a successful intellectual life. Each day of my life is another data point about how wrong were the teachers who told me I would not be successful without submitting to "the game" of school they desired me to play.]

Most of the books on my list are self-explanatory. One in particular may seem strange: the manuscript of Great Expectations. I picked that one up because the photographic images of Dickens’ original manuscript is a beautiful example of how messy the creative process is. Imagine trying to put metrics on the process of writing that, with all its crossouts and insertions.Writing is exploratory. Just. Like. Testing.

30 Responses to “What We Read”

  1. Raynald Says:

    A bit biased… You are not intelligent or skilled because you go to school, but statistically it is safer to employ graduate people. That’s why firms like degrees, not because of content but because of minimizing the risk. That’s probably sad from a creative and egalitarian point of view, but when business commands… And as long as you don’t reverse the system…

    [James' Reply: Please cite a source for any such statistics-- because I don't believe they exist. You just made that up, didn't you?

    What I would do if you come back with a source is challenge its validity.The most obvious way to challenge it would be on the idea of "safety" of hiring people, since that's a poorly defined concept and I can scarcely believe that's what any study would address.

    Secondly, you've made an outrageous generalization about the decision-making practices of "firms." As if it is normal for companies to consult actuarial tables when determining their hiring practices! Come on, man. In my experience, which is considerable, FEW PEOPLE EVEN UNDERSTAND STATISTICS. Most people are terrified of them.

    I have never seen statistics used as part of any hiring process in the computing field.

    Anyway I wrote a book about self-education. So, you know, screw you.]

  2. Shrini Says:

    As a context driven tester – here is list of books I have, read or intend to read

    1. Conjectures and Refutations – Karl Popper
    2. The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gavende
    3. Freaknomics and Super Freaknomics
    4. What is time – Paul Davis
    5. What is life – Erwin Schrondinger
    6. Turning Point – Fritjof Capra
    7. Outliiers – Malcolm Gladwell
    8. Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins
    9. The origin of Life – Paul Davies
    10. Sophies World – Jostein Gaarder
    11. The science of Leonardo – Fritjof Capra
    12. The language of mathematics – Making the invisible visible – Keith Devlin
    13. Beyond Einstein – Kaku and Thompson
    14. The power of Vedic Maths – Atul Gupta
    15. Simplixity – Jeffery Klugger
    16. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
    17. S Chandrasekhar – Man of science
    18. 50 Philosophy Ideas
    19. Memories of Sherlock Homes
    20 . Einstein for Everyone – Robert Piconi
    21. Mathematician’s Lament – Paul Lockhart

    Pod Casts/documentaries -

    1. How to think about science – CBC; Fun to Imagine – Richard Feynman BBC documentaries
    2. Cosomos – Carl Sagen
    3. Light Fantastic – Simon Schafer – BBC Program
    4. Ascent of Money – Niall Furguson
    5. In our times – Philosophy, science and History BBC program series
    6. Age of Persuasion – CBC
    7. Programs on Galileo, Newton and Darwin – CBC
    8. Brief History of Mathematics – Markus du Sautoy – BBC
    9. Infinite Monkey cage – BBC
    10. Math Mutation – 1-2 min short podcasts on fun/weird ideas of maths
    11 Point of Enquiry
    12. How stuff works
    13. TED Talks.

    The list is growing – I am still hungry to read, think and debate. This thrust for knowledge of mine started with interactions with people in CDT – specially you, James, Michael Bolton, Cem Kaner, Matt Heusser, Scott Barber, Ben Simo and others. Thanks

    Did miss anything I should listen, see or read?

    Shrini

  3. Chris K Says:

    A what store? =)

    In Buccaneer-Scholar (I believe) you talk about going with the flow of your curosity – when you find something intriguing you go for it. Is that how you searched and found these books? You scoured the shelves and this 21 book list is what you came up with?

    Do you read books front to back or scan them looking for interesting sections to focus on?

    [James' Reply: Yes, this is scouting. I'm looking for books to add to what Nicholas Taleb calls an "anti-library." I bought them, in this case, and had them shipped back home. They were too heavy to carry with me.

    When the book is on the Kindle, I tend to read it front to back. Otherwise, I do a lot of random accessing.]

  4. Michael Larsen Says:

    Shrini, For podcasts, I would consider throwing in Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History” and NPR’s Freakonomics Radio. Both will challenge your perceptions of things that you think you know and how well/what you know about them. Also, I think any tester would be well suited to view James Burke’s “Connections” programs (I, II and III) and “The Day the Universe Changed” (which are also available in in book form).

  5. Aaron Hodder Says:

    Shrini: In my opinion, “The Black Swan” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Swan_%28Taleb_book%29) is a must read book for…everyone.

  6. David Greenlees Says:

    Keep the resource list going people, this is awesome!

    How could we not list – Lessons Learned in Software Testing…

    Assumed perhaps? We all know how dangerous assumptions can be… ;0)

    Consider it listed.

  7. Lanette Creamer Says:

    Hey James,

    I’ve never had a book impact how I think about error handling like the book Aikido in Everyday Life: Giving in to Get Your Way by Terry Dobson and Victor Miller. It’s an old book, often in the library and available used. Amazing read for me as I think about how many options there really are for resolving conflict that I’ve never considered.

    I thought I was pretty darn expert in error handling, all of the ways to prompt errors, but I realized one area I’ve not considered adequately is just how many ways there are to respond to any conflict, and how many “issues” there are that may not be bugs.

    What is the best book you’ve read lately? One question I love to ask testers. Not all that they’ve read, but what impacted them.

    Thanks,
    Lanette

    p.s. I was criticized for recommending Testing Computer Software to a dev learning how to test, yet the reason I love it is I feel like the basic calculator exercise is helpful for more developers at understanding how they might test, and most of them won’t make it through the whole book, so even if they get THAT far, they will know something. Maybe more of them will get through Lessons Learned in Software Testing than I assume will, but I wish more short demos or exercises could get dev attention to just educate a little bit more about the range of tests beyond function tests.

    [James' Reply: The most interesting book recently is Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman]

  8. Josh Crompton Says:

    That’s quite a list, James. Do you tend to take notes when you read in a bookshop, or just let it all filter through? One of my favourite things about testing is the weird books you can read in the name of research. A couple recent/current favourites:

    * Tempo: timing, tactics and strategy in narrative-driven decision-making – Venkatesh Rao (http://www.tempobook.com/)
    * Three Dialogues on Knowledge – Paul Feyerabend
    * Against Method – Paul Feyerabend

    I’m thinking about diving into Buckminster Fuller next.

    [James' Reply: I let it filter.

    I'm a big fan of Feyerbend, too.]

  9. Ruud Cox Says:

    Hi James,

    Thanks for sharing the list. Let’s share what I’m currently reading and what’s on my reading backlog.

    I’m currently reading:
    - Understanding and Managing Risk Attitude, by David Hillson and Ruth Murray-Webster
    - A Practitioner’s Guide to Software Test Design, by Lee Copeland

    Books that I obtained since January 1st:
    - Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, by Karl Popper
    - The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, by Scott Plous
    - Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, by Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, Amos Tversky
    - Sensation and Perception, by E. Bruce Goldstein
    - The Art of Software Testing, by Glenford J. Myers
    - The PRISMA Approach, by Erik van Veenendaal

    Some books I like to mention that I bought in the past:
    - Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography, by Errol Morris
    - Art and Illusion, by E. H. Gombrich
    - The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths, by Michael Shermer

    And I recently discovered the Open Culture website which contains loads, LOADS of free stuff that a context-driven tester might like;

    Open Culture: The best free cultural & educational media on the web, http://www.openculture.com

    Again, thanks for sharing.

    – Ruud Cox

  10. Andreas Gefvert Says:

    I think this is your first post which I totally disagree. I’m not saying this applies for everyone but personally I wouldn’t be the tester I am today without my degree in computer science. This is mainly due to the scientific way of thinking, which is drilled throughout the education. With a scientific way of thinking I mean it’s crucial to dispute, challenge, explore and present your findings in a structural way. It’s definitely a way of thinking which I wouldn’t have acquired without my education.

    [James' Reply: How can you speak so confidently about a hypothetical reality? I am an example of someone who rejected institutional education, and yet I am a tester with a reference for scientific thought. That's an existence proof, unless you reject that fact.]

  11. Simon Morley Says:

    Very good, I must see if any of these should make it into my anti-library.

    I track my reading and some of my influences in a mind map, here (time for a update). I usually have the map pinned up by my desk – when people puzzle over it I describe how it shows some of my influences that contribute to my testing -> and also point out that the “software development” part is only a part of a much bigger picture.

    It’s also interesting to track how the influences (books & papers) link from one to another -> serves both as a reference and as an illustrative tool for others -> especially those that think that good testing can be derived from a couple of “testing books”. Very instructive for managers & stakeholders!

    The “anti-library” is a useful tool for me to illustrate (to myself) that learning, exploring, investigation and research – whether different topics or perspectives – is an ongoing task.

  12. Johan Hoberg Says:

    Interesting topic.

    Found the following link regarding the subject of educational credentials used as indicators of underlying intelligence, which I thought was an interesting read:
    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2011/01/credentialism-and-elite-employment.html
    “In line with human capital, screening, and signaling accounts of the role of educational credentials in hiring (see Bills, 2003 for review), participants overwhelmingly believed the prestige of one’s educational credentials was an indicator of their underlying intelligence. Evaluators believed that educational prestige was a signal of general rather than job-specific skills, most notably the ability to learn quickly.”
    “However, it was not the content of an elite education that employers valued but rather the perceived rigor of these institutions’ admissions processes.”

    I recommend the following five books which I recently read and enjoyed:

    1. The Shallows
    http://www.theshallowsbook.com/nicholascarr/Nicholas_Carrs_The_Shallows.html

    2. Outliers – The Story of Success
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_(book)

    3.The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140230122/ref=cm_li_v_cd_d?tag=linkedin-20

    4. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316010669/ref=cm_li_v_cr_self?tag=linkedin-20

    5. The Time Paradox: The Psychology of Time
    http://www.thetimeparadox.com/

    Best regards,

    Johan Hoberg

  13. Ranjit Shringarpure Says:

    Would(n’t) the following qualify:

    1. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
    2. The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home

    Both by Dan Ariely

    3. The Element
    4. Out of our minds

    Both by Sir Ken Robinson

  14. Jeremy Wenisch Says:

    Adding to Michael’s comment, WNYC’s RadioLab is another great NPR podcast rich in thought fodder.

  15. Steve Abbott Says:

    James, you are living proof that you don’t need a formal education to do great work. My last employer wouldn’t even consider someone who didn’t have a degree (and good grades). You could say that using grades and a degree is a hiring heuristic, but I think it’s a pretty bad one. I think the most important thing I learned in my formal education was how to learn on my own – and that didn’t really come until graduate school. If you already have that skill and the motivation and discipline to do it, then you probably don’t need school.

  16. Raynald Says:

    Before trying some answer, I am not sure to understand the sentence “So, you know, screw you”. Is it the title of your book or your answer to me? As a non english native, and a foreigner self-educated in movie theaters in this language (not at school) I might be confused by the sentence

    [James' Reply: The title of my book is Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar.]

  17. Raynald Says:

    So does it just mean “fuck you” or something like this ?

    [James' reply: It is an idiomatic phrase that technically means "fuck you" but is intended to have a softer tone. Much more important than that is my rejection of your premise and my challenge to you to support your absurd claim.]

  18. Raynald Says:

    First you withdraw your words and then we’ll debate (maybe).

    [James' Reply: As a self-educated man I found your comment ignorant and offensive. I reacted accordingly. Does something surprise you about that?]

  19. Swati Pandit Says:

    This is a virtual encyclopedia. While its true that exploratory testing/rapid testing will be fueled by this, what about the domain part of it? That opens an unlimited array of possibilities. I may be testing clinical research software or data migration!

    [James' Reply: That's right.]

  20. Laurent Bossavit Says:

    > what Nicholas Taleb calls an “anti-library.”

    Wasn’t that Umberto Eco originally? I vaguely remember an interview of his that featured some of his wonderfully irreverent replies to people foolhardy enough to ask him, “Have you read *all* of these?” (Just possibly it was Taleb where I read this in the first place, though: http://ruchir75.blogspot.com/2008/01/umberto-ecos-anti-library.html )

    [James' Reply: I haven't checked the book, but I have the impression that you're right.]

    Your and his example played a big role in my ridding myself of the hangup that I absolutely had to read every book I bought or borrowed cover-to-cover.

    In a similar vein, I’m happy to pay the ACM a couple hundred bucks each year, for the privilege of having a *huge* amount of research papers I can look up on demand, though I read very few of them closely. I pay more or less the same sum to the IEEE (less happily; I disapprove of their commercial and marketing behaviour).

    It’s a shame that this is restricted to SE/CS related content though. My idea of an enlightened digital civilization would include being able, as a member of the public, to look up the full text of any research paper on any topic, for an affordable annual cover charge.

    Here’s what I read, book-wise: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Morendil

    [James' Reply: This is a shame, a real shame upon our society. We pay taxes for public education, and yet we don't have free access to untold thousands of scientific papers.]

  21. Paul Berry Says:

    Working for the University of Nottingham, I’ve been making use of the fantastic perk, that all staff here get, of academic-level borrowing rights at the University Libraries.

    To put it another way, that allows me to self-teach with the full range of academic books, papers, journals, etc, for free.

    The School of Computer Science’s library does have a fair number of software testing books (at least 40 different titles) but judging by the return-date stamps, almost all of them have never been touched. I think that says a lot about the perception of software testing at degree level.

    Anyway, here is my lending list which, when not software devlopment/testing, is mostly popular science. I do read more than this, and I do actually buy some books, as the library is merely one resource I draw on:

    Dawkins, Richard, 1941- The selfish gene / Richard Dawkins.
    Singh, Simon. Fermat’s last theorem : the story of a riddle that confounded the world’s greatest minds for 358 yea
    Jackson, Alan Arthur. Semi-detached London : suburban development, life and transport, 1900-39 / by Alan A. Jackson.
    Hobhouse, Hermione. Lost London : a century of demolition and decay / Hermione Hobhouse.
    Norman, Donald A. The design of everyday things / Donald A. Norman.
    Sagan, Carl, 1934-1996. The demon-haunted world : science as a candle in the dark / Carl Sagan.
    Davies, Nick, 1953- Flat earth news : an award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the glob
    Toynbee, Polly, 1946- Hard work : life in low-pay Britain / Polly Toynbee.
    Hanlon, Michael, 1964- 10 questions science can’t answer (yet) : a guide to the scientific wilderness / Michael Hanlon.
    Kunstler, James Howard. The long emergency : surviving the converging catastrophes of the twenty-first century / James Howar
    Dawkins, Richard, 1941- The extended phenotype : the long reach of the gene / Richard Dawkins.
    Brooks, Frederick P. (Frederick Phillips) The mythical man-month : essays on software engineering / Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.
    Dawkins, Richard, 1941- Unweaving the rainbow : science, delusion and the appetite for wonder / Richard Dawkins.
    Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968. The jungle / by Upton Sinclair : edited with an introduction by Christopher Phelps ; with, Condition
    Whittaker, James A., 1965- How to break software : a practical guide to testing / James A. Whittaker.
    Whittaker, James A., 1965- Exploratory software testing / James A. Whittaker.
    Dustin, Elfriede. Effective software testing : 50 specific ways to improve your testing / Elfriede Dustin.
    Kaner, Cem. Testing computer software / Cem Kaner, Jack Falk, Hung Quoc Nguyen.
    Huang, J. C., 1935- Software error detection through testing and analysis / J.C. Huang.

    [James' Reply: I would dispute the Whittaker ET book, which is a travesty of poor scholarship. And although I haven't read the Dustin book, her reputation in the Context-Driven community is very poor. Considering that she has so little clue what testing is, I suspect her attempt to rip off Lessons Learned in Software Testing did not come out well.]

  22. Michael Phillips Says:

    Good reading lists here. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan is a good starting point for learning about critical thinking, especially the chapter about his ‘Baloney Detection Kit’. Another good one is ‘Beginner’s Guide to Scientific Method’ by Stephen Carey. Actually, it was reading Sagan’s book, about 15 years ago that really sorted my mind out and helped me get rid of a lot of the nonsense and mumbo-jumbo I’d learnt at school or took to be ‘accepted wisdom’. It made me question everything. Everything I heard, read, saw on TV, but also everything I did with my life, and it helped me to analyse and deconstruct the factory thinking my employers at the time were trying to teach me. It’s not a highly advanced scientific book, but it had a huge effect on me and it put Carl Sagan at the top of my virtual list of ‘people I wish I’d met before they died’.
    I just wish some managers in the software industry would read it, and then we might not have so much nonsense and mumbo-jumbo like supposedly mandatory ISTQB certificates, 45 page test plan templates, graphs showing bugs found per 100 test cases and so on, which create false certainties while not making the world more manageable; the world isn’t manageable, you have to manage with and actually embrace uncertainty as a positive force that leads to new ideas. I’m a bit vague in my thoughts on this and perhaps making a big, unstructured leap in my thoughts here, but I see everything we do in life and in fact life itself as an exploration, with no set end points but some goals I’d like to achieve, the experiences I have along the way, and some basic ideas about starting points and the means I think I need to achieve things. One of those means is critical thinking.

  23. Paul Berry Says:

    James, I don’t disagree with your comments. However, if a book gets namechecked often enough in certain circles–whether recommended or damned–or is just there for the taking, I’m going to have a read of it. Most of these are pretty dry and rarefied: lots of theory but not always translatable into practical methods. No matter: still worth a skim, if only to see what other points of view are out there and to challenge or reinforce one’s ideas. One title that still stands up is Brooks, though that’s mostly about software project management so is really about human nature (which isn’t going to change much).

    Maybe I’ll review each title one day.

    Here’s the rest I haven’t read yet. Some of the titles are a bit ambitious and the Y2K one will read like a time capsule:

    Artificial intelligence methods in software testing / editors, Mark Last, Abraham Kandel, Horst Bunke. c2004.
    Testing in software development / members of the British Computer Society Working Group on Testing ; editors, Martyne A. Ould and Charles Unwin. 1986.
    Ammann, Paul, 1961- Introduction to software testing / Paul Ammann, Jeff Offutt. 2008.
    Beck, Kent. Test-driven development : by example / Kent Beck. c2003.
    Beizer, Boris. Software testing techniques / Boris Beizer. 2nd ed.
    Bender, James, 1972- Professional test driven development with C# : developing real world applications with TDD / James Bender, Jeff McWherter. 2011.
    Dustin, Elfriede. Implementing automated software testing : how to lower costs while raising quality / Elfriede Dustin, Thom Garrett, Bernie Gauf. 2009.
    Everett, Gerald D., 1943- Software testing : testing across the entire software development life cycle / Gerald D. Everett, Raymond McLeod, Jr. c2007.
    Freeman, Steve, 1958- Growing object-oriented software, guided by tests / Steve Freeman and Nat Pryce. c2010.
    Humble, Jez. Continuous delivery / Jez Humble and David Farley. c2011.
    Kung, David C. Testing object-oriented software / David C. Kung, Pei Hsia, Jerry Gao. 1998.
    Mustafa, Khurram. Structured software testing : concepts and practices / K. Mustafa, R.A. Khan. c2007.
    Myers, Glenford J., 1946- The art of software testing / Glenford J. Myers, Tom Badgett, Corey Sandler. 3rd ed.
    Perry, William E. Year 2000 software testing / William Perry. 1999.
    Pesarin, Fortunato. Permutation tests for complex data : theory, applications and software / Fortunato Pesarin, Luigi Salmaso. c2010.
    Pezzè, Mauro. Software testing and analysis : process, principles, and techniques / Mauro Pezzè, Michal Young. c2008.
    Singh, Yogesh, 1966- Software testing / Yogesh Singh. c2011.
    Tamres, Louise, 1961- Introducing software testing / Louise Tamres. 2002.
    Watkins, John (John Edward) Testing IT : an off-the-shelf software testing process / John Watkins, Simon Mills. 2nd ed.

    [James' Reply: Brooks is great. But you have a responsibility not to perpetuate bullshit. If a book is bad, such as Dustin's Automation book, please don't say its name.]

  24. Swati Pandit Says:

    Hi James,

    Thanks a lot for your affirmation on my belief (my comment dated March 12, 2012). Further to this, how do we work on the domain expertise part of it? It probably makes sense to convert a Domain Expert (Business Analyst) into a tester rather than the other way round. What do you think?

    [James' Reply: I don't think either need to be converted into either. One good tester, working with five domain experts, can help those experts perform as good testers. I like the collaboration concept.]

  25. Oliver Erlewein Says:

    As always I recommend Radio (the talky stations not the music stuff), TED.com and Podcasts (mostly science and tech stuff). I don’t have much time to read (anymore) but I do have lots of time to listen to stuff while doing other things so they are ideal. All three have one thing in common. They take me to places I would have never ever gone out of my free will or available opportunity and interest. The topics are wide ranging and constantly challenge my status quo. They expand my knowledge just enough so I can decide if I want to investigate further or not.

    There are also two films I think are really worthwhile to watch. The first is Helvetica (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0847817/) and the second is Objectified (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1241325/). Both by the same people and the second not quite as good but still a treat. And don’t be discouraged, I know how I reacted when my wife said “We’re going to the movies to watch a film about the font Helvetica”. ;-)

    For a good fun and informative read I can recommend Longitude (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longitude_(book)). There’s also a film but I do recommend reading the book first.

  26. Mallikarjuna Y C Says:

    Hi James,

    You criticise ISTQB so virulently – is it because you are not consulted for anything in their scheme of things?

    [James' Reply: No, it's because I think they are a collection of bad people who profit from the ignorance and fear of others. This is not a casual opinion. I have a long experience watching those bozos.]

    For me it looks like that.

    [James' Reply: It doesn't look like anything to you. You haven't been in the debates. You haven't seen the emails.]

    I understand that such types of certifications will not help to decide whether a tester is good or bad. But such certifications have their place.

    [James' Reply: They have no place in a scientifically grounded community. They have no place in a professional community. They have no place in an ethical community.]

    I think it helps people to filterout candidates and this process of filtering may not be always fair – some good people will be left out sometimes.

    [James' Reply: Really, do you even know how to test? If you know how to test, have you looked carefully at what the ISTQB is and what it does? Wow, either study the craft properly or go away, please.]

    In the end ISTQB certification is a type of business and business is for making money.

    [James' Reply: Businesses can make money in ethical ways. Mine does. We have no need for people who tell lies or exaggerate, or who cynically play on the fears or laziness of others.]

    The ISTQB people are there to make money and the candidates who apply for it should decide it is good for them or not? Please let me know your thoughts on why you dont seem to lose out a chance to critisize ISTQB.

    [James' Reply: The people who get ISTQB certification fall mainly into two categories: innocents and conscripts. No one I respect actually respects the ISTQB. No one. I do know one ISTQB leader whom I respect as a man, but not as a tester. I'm waiting for him to wake up and cast aside the embarrassing low standards he has embraced.

    You need to learn how to test. You need to raise YOUR standards. Until then, your penalty is that you have to associate with other people of your ilk, and you will not be welcome into the community of serious students of the craft.]

  27. MichaelP Says:

    You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto, Jaron Lanier

    To be honest I’ve only just bought it and have started reading but can’t put it down, but I think it’s worthwhile reading for anyone working with software; what we build and what we test is not just a product, it has consequences; some of those consequences are tangible and easy to measure, but some of the consequences are effects on how people think and interact; I think Lanier’s book (he’s a pioneer in ‘virtual reality’) just shows how big our responsibility is as testers to ask critical questions, not only about something technical, but also about human consequences of technical decisions. He also makes the case for the ideas and creativity of the individual above the ‘wisdom of crowds’; a theme that should be quite recognisable for testers struggling to get acceptance for exploratory testing in a scripted environment!

    I’ll report back when I’ve finished the book, but it’s already making me think a great deal.

  28. M.Faraday Says:

    Sigh – my book list is bigger than yours.

    [James' Reply: If that were true, you'd be sharing it. BTW, I have a nice little book about Faraday, too. He was a remarkable thinker who rose from humble roots.]

  29. Anand Sidharth Says:

    Did any one try ‘ Ending of Time’ J Krishnamurti & Dr.David Bohm ? Krishnamurti had raised many fundamental questions about center of thought and its manipulations..

    Anand Sidh

  30. Michael Phillips Says:

    On the subject of institutionalised education, this isn’t a book but still interesting for ‘Buccaneer Scholars’ and self taught people; an RSA animate by Sir Ken Robinson;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

    There’s a lot there that I recognise from school (which didn’t work that well for me either). Especially the bit on ‘divergent thinking’, showing that as people go through the school system they lose the ability for divergent thinking, and their thinking and approach to problem solving gets narrower. Also, Ken Robinson talks of the school system as a ‘factory’, producing batches of young people grouped by year of birth and stamped with a QA style seal of approval having passed their exams, rather like industrial goods coming off a production line.

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