Theoretical frameworks, part 2

Carrying on from my last research-related rant, my other problem of late lies in the writing process.

The framework is supposed to assist the detection of defects in software, in a very round-about fashion. Why is this important? Well, hands up who hasn’t lost work as a result of software screwing up. Some have died. Many people have experimented with more direct ways to assist defect detection, with some success, but as a result there are now many disjointed explanations of what works and why. Intuitively there should only be one explanation, taking into account everyone’s accumulated experience on the subject, but nobody (as far as I know) has really sat down to work out what it might be.

That’s not to say that what I’m doing is especially hard. If nobody else is doing it, it’s only because so far they’ve been busy getting us all to this point – our current level of understanding – not because it takes anything special to go beyond it.

Nevertheless, I’ve been revising and rethinking this damn theoretical framework for over two years now, on and off. The first vague thoughts coalesced in late 2006, but it was a long time before I worked out what it was actually for. That didn’t stop me writing about it, however (because that’s what you do). I’ve written a lot and drawn a lot, but there hasn’t been a single cohesive strain of thought. It has been more like an evolving organism. Like DNA, I have many different segments of writing dating from different periods, each adapted to different circumstances. I use various methods of flagging these as being “non-current”, but I dare not throw them out in case there are still important truths buried therein.

The first step in writing is often the “brain dump”, where you pour out all your thoughts into a monologue. However, I find that I can’t really do a good monologue when I already have chunks of writing – the result of previous brain dumps – that need to be knitted together somehow. It’s hard to revise your thinking on something that you haven’t thought out completely to begin with, and then do so again, and again, and again. If you’re as disorganised as I am, entropy catches up with you.

When asked, I tell everyone that I’m “getting there”, which translates to “things are happening but I’m making no commitments”.