Re: books on programming

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From: Robert S. Thau (
Date: Tue Jan 02 2001 - 09:40:45 PST

Lorin Rivers writes:

> Pattern Language! Yes! It's one of my all-time favorite books...

Hmmm... when thinking about the actual structure of urban life, I
think I got a bit more out of Jane Jacobs' Death and Life of Great
American Cities.

Perhaps I'm just allergic to Christopher Alexander's rhetoric, which
strikes me, I'm afraid, as needlessly obscurantist. The book is about
an aspect of good design which he calls "the quality without a name".
The prose would get a whole lot snappier if he'd just name it ---
"self-sustaining", "reflexive", and "self-reinforcing" all come to
mind as possibilities, along with the usual acronyms and cocktails of
greek roots. If he despairs of anything in preexisting language which
even comes close, he could just pull something out of the air and call
it, say, tunksome, or fred --- which is effectively what he's done
with this "quality without a name" business, except that the name he
has chosen, "quality without a name", is nineteen letters, seven
syllables, and communicates an air of mystery which seems besides the


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