Metaphors We Code By

Learn to be aware of, not tripped up by, the metaphors we unavoidably use when thinking about software and collaborating on design.

Of the twelve XP practices that Kent Beck described in the “white book”, System Metaphor has seen little adoption while the others have been enthusiastically embraced and extended. In this talk I will discuss why this might be so and relate XP’s notion of metaphor to conceptual metaphors that have been investigated by George Lakoff et al. Lakoff’s research indicates that metaphors are inescapable when thinking and communicating about software. However, careless use of metaphor can hinder the process of designing software and communicating about software design. If we cannot avoid metaphor we must use it to our advantage and avoid its pitfalls.

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