Álvaro Durán Studio

The Writer

The Writer and 'La Jacqueline'. Sitges, 2019.

" Shortly after I was admitted to university, my father sat me down and gave me a short speech. 'Now that you're going to become an undergraduate', he said, 'you must understand the kind of job you've chosen to do. You may think that learning will stop once you graduate, but that isn't true.'

'Truth is', he continued, 'in order for you to become successful, you must turn yourself into a learning machine.'

That speech got me thinking for a while. What is learning? Does it happen at school? If not, what have I been doing all these years?

Soon after, I understood what that meant. It isn't the things you memorise during your school years that count. It's the learning technique. The discipline, the attention to detail. The attitude. At the highest levels, the features of learning that normal people find unpleasant are enjoyable, peaceful, even meditative. It's not something you dread, but look forward to.

That's when I formed my enduring hypothesis that concentration is so hard for many, and so rewarding for the rest. And that it will become less and less normal while at the same time it turns more and more valuable. "



If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us. But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I learnt how to program very late not until I was an undergraduate, and my first encounter with code was ugly. I was used to a blackboard, and formulas, and developing software was very alien. I'd much rather had written sophisticated equations on a piece of paper than fix trivial code on a computer screen.

It wasn't until I was working in London that I was taught how to program well, using modern tools. And it was then, working in a digital banking project, when I encountered for the first time a problem that's been my obsession ever since.

Why is it so hard to do simple things with software once it grows too complex?

It was absurd that moving information from Subsystem A to Subsystem B in a simple, scalable way required 4 teams distributed in 4 different countries. Just as absurd as the fact that this distribution was essential, because the project required hiring people with skills so specific, they couldn't be found in just one city.

The implications are profound. There's this notion that progress is inevitable, but my experience has been that we have stopped being able to do the things that we used to. That the productivity of software developers seems to be in decline, and I fear for a time when it simply stops.

This site, and the writing it contains, is an attempt to build the knowledge tools to understand why this is happening, and how to fix it.