Are we doing all we can to support young talents?

I’m reading Lee Smolin The Trouble with Physics. It’s a book about the crisis of physics, which has not produced new experimentally verified theories the past 20 years. All despite more people working with physics than ever before.

To me, this sounds like something I know from the testing profession: we are more testers than ever, yet we are not generally producing new knowledge about our contribution to software development and value generation.

You disagreee? Well I hoped you would, because there are people in our business who try – but they are not generally listened to. The software industry is in trouble, but so is testing.

Smolin clearly identifies what has ruined his profession: The fact that one area, which cannot be proven by experiment, is dominating physics: string theory. We have our own ‘string theories’ – tools and techniques which don’t deliver what they promise, yet are what everybody is talking about.

Smolin has one particular worry which I’d like to quote because I think if we can fix it, we will be much better off – in physics and testing.

“So the question […] I ask myself every morning: Are we doing all we can to support and encourage young scientists – and, by virtue of this, ourselves – to transcend what we have done these last thirty years and find the true theory that solves the five grand questions of physics.”

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2 thoughts on “Are we doing all we can to support young talents?

  1. Sorry but I don’t get your point on several levels. You say that despite having more testers in the profession that ever “we are not generally producing new knowledge about our contribution to software development and value generation”

    So how will supporting and encouraging more people into the profession help it past the issues you identify if there are currently more testers than ever? Isn’t that just like putting out more mousetraps filled with cheese to catch a mouse that does not like cheese?

    Secondly, can you quantify what you mean by “not producing new knowledge about our contribution to software development” In what way? Has the explosion in software testing blogs, on-line tutorials, new testing tools, new SDL methodologies and communities like the STC not helped us move on as a profession?

  2. Hi Eliza

    Thanks a lot for your comment! I’m glad you feel we’re moving on as a profession. I agree, we’re moving. But only slowly.

    I look at it this way: Software industry has evolved enormously in technical terms. Performance of computers has increased and software is more complex and feature rich than ever. But is it better? Has software quality improved too?

    I don’t think so.

    And it’s partly our fault as testers.

    We do a lot of testing, checking, automation, verification etc. But the question is whether we know what we’re doing for quality? Test is not producing quality, it’s assessing it, but we’re an integrated part of the quality producing workcycle, so we should know how we’re contributing.

    And we’re not.

    90% of the development of test tools, methodologies, techniques are beaurocratic in nature. They can improve coordination, planning, execution. Beaurocracy is a good thing – it can ensure everyone is getting the same, but it’s not producing quality.

    Look at universities: How many faculties have research programs concerning test heuristics? Very, very few.

    And last, but not least: What are we teaching new testers? We are teaching them to check and work according to specification. Is that contributing to quality? In the ideal world, perhaps. But the world is not ideal.

    We’re moving, and that’s good, but there’s a long way to go.

    /Anders

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