While there were certainly many important concepts presented in the first chapter of Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman and the subsequent chapter introductions, I felt that the increasing level of conceptual involvement made the earliest sections far more fruitful in regards to spurring introspection. It cannot be overstated how well the logical flow of concept presentation is and how the breakdown into sections (Context, Problem, Solution, and Action) allows the reader to take the somewhat abstract elegant concepts and ground them in personal and actionable terms.
An example of how this played out: as I read the introduction to Chapter 2 – Emptying the Cup – I found myself having just digested a well-crafted opening but somewhat hazy about how the previous material would be of substantial use to me. To my pleasant surprise the authors had anticipated this and conveniently delivered me a whole section titled, “Context”. The section read:
“You are just starting out and have only a shallow understanding of how one or two programming languages.”
Indeed, it was so! The “Problem” section then provided what occupational or educational stumbling block I may be facing, followed by a tremendous helping of sagely advice to overcome the aforementioned problem, peppered with technical examples and some relatable anecdotes from the authors themselves. It concluded with a section appropriately titled. “Action,” which provided the hard-hitting actionable steps that, deep down, every person facing a self-improvement regimen knows will create an amount of existential friction surpassed only by its constructive value. Due to all of the above I found myself absolutely loving this book and can imagine it becoming a staple source of wisdom and motivation to come.
Speaking of existential friction, my favorite quote from the assigned reading was actually not in the assigned content but rather the “Audience” section before it. The quote reads, “[E]ven people with a decade or more of experience—particularly those who may be struggling to navigate their careers—will find inspiration and perspective to counter the siren call of promotion to management,” spoke to me because at my last job I spent many a night fighting with inept management only to open my phone on my lunch break and gaze in despair at my Quora feed littered with horror stories of talented principal engineers being given the axe because they had become too expensive to employ, wondering if they should have relinquished their craft and made the jump to management instead. For full disclosure this not some Marxist indictment of the labor aristocracy; I have been both the employee and the manager in my life and may one day find myself on the managerial side of the coin because I genuinely do believe that I am a strong mediator and leader. But the introverted tinkerer within me grasps firmly at any notion that it is possible to succeed largely based on the merit of my toiling and not the bureaucracy of corporate telephone; if this book is to be believed then it seems the inner tinkerer may have a leg to stand on.