What Sicily can teach you about IT architecture

I’m back from Sicily, and it has been Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, French, German, and Spanish before becoming Italian. Each civilization re-used whatever was bequeathed to it by its predecessors. That’s why you find a Baroque church incorporating columns taken from a ruined Greek theater and a Palazzo built partially from lava stones taken from a Roman villa.

I remembered a quote from Ellen Ullman: “We build our computer systems the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.”

We cannot see through the layers beneath our buildings in the physical world. That makes it hard to figure out if you can safely build higher. In IT, we can see the foundation. That allows us to know what changes we can make. As long as we have the source code and the people to understand it…

Reflect on Your Life

Do you think about your life? Today is Great Prayer Day here in Denmark, and other countries have similar days. Even if you are not religious, you can take this reminder to spend some time reflecting on your life.

It is easy to get caught up in the little things we need to do to run our lives. We are so busy that we do not have time to think about the longer term. But if you have not decided where you want to go, you have no guidance in your life.

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks the cat: “Which way should I go?” The cat asks where she wants to get to, and she says: “I don’t much care where.” The cat replies: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Spend some time today, or this weekend, thinking about where you want to go in your life. What do you want your life to look like in one year, in five years, in ten years? What legacy do you want to leave?

You might think you don’t have an answer, but you do. You simply need to give your brain space and time to think. That’s why religious people pray, and others meditate. You don’t have to do either. You just need to turn off all your devices and spend several hours doing nothing. You know the answer. Let it come to the surface so you can act on it.