The mathematics of desire

By Gordon Rugg

When I was an undergrad, back in the day, a lot of the campus graffiti looked as if it had been written by someone who had dropped acid shortly beforehand. One example read: “The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao”.

Another said: “Tell me what you want, and I will give you what you need”. That particular concept stuck in my mind, and it’s one I still use in my work on requirements.

What do people want, and what do they crave, and what do they need, and what are the implications? Those are questions central to our world and our values, and they’ve been around for millennia, but they’ve never been properly answered. In recent years, though, research has produced some fascinating new insights into these old questions.

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Client requirements: The shape of the elephant, part 4

By Gordon Rugg

This article is about the problem of identifying and clarifying client requirements. It uses the humorous example of a client’s requirement for an image of an elephant, and follows on from the two previous posts about ways of getting the requirement wrong.

The next article in this series will be about ways of getting the requirements right, but for the time being, we’ll continue with examples of wrongness above and beyond the call of duty, starting with a forgotten icon from history, in the form of cartoon character Horton the Elephant.

Bad solution 7:  Cartoons always amuse people.  


Client’s response: Wrong.

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