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I will explore the use of metaphors in software development. We often use deliberate figurative metaphor to introduce novel designs.
I will relate this creative aspect of metaphor to cognitive metaphors that have been investigated by George Lakoff et al. Lakoff's research posits that the only way we can think and communicate about abstract concepts is to relate them, by metaphor, to our physical environment. And you don't get much more abstract than software! We usually do not even notice the metaphors we are using when describing software. However, careless use of metaphor can hinder the process of designing software, communicating about software design and organising ourselves to collaborate on software development. If we cannot avoid metaphor we must use it to our advantage and avoid its pitfalls.
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Nat Pryce is a co-author of Growing Object-Oriented Software Guided by Tests. An early adopter of XP, he has written or contributed to several open source libraries and tools that support TDD and was one of the founding organizers of the London XP Day conference.