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What We Read (James Bach’s Blog)

On March 6, 2012, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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I staggered out of the Cambridge Press bookstore a bit dazed, today, having gorged on 21 books. [Addendum: I mean by this that I browsed them, purchased them, and had them shipped home.] If you want to know what a Context-Driven tester reads, here it is:

  • A First Course in Statistical Programming with R
  • Wisdom: Its Nature, Origins, and Development
  • Learning and Expanding with Activity Theory
  • Sequential Analysis and Observational Methods for the Behavioral Sciences
  • Observing Interaction: An Introduction to Sequential Analysis
  • Human Error
  • Combinatorics: A Problem Oriented Approach (Mathematical Association of America Textbooks)
  • A Mathematician Comes of Age (Spectrum)
  • The Golem at Large: What You Should Know about Technology (Canto)
  • The Golem: What You Should Know about Science (Canto)
  • A Practical Introduction to Denotational Semantics (Cambridge Computer Science Texts)
  • Dialogic Inquiry: Towards a Socio-cultural Practice and Theory of Education (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)
  • From Teams to Knots: Activity-Theoretical Studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)
  • Nuts and bolts for the social sciences
  • How to Fold It: The Mathematics of Linkages, Origami and Polyhedra
  • The Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology)
  • The Manuscript of Great Expectations: From the Townshend Collection, Wisbech (Cambridge Library Collection – Literary Studies)
  • The Cognitive Basis of Science
  • Satisficing and Maximizing: Moral Theorists on Practical Reason
  • The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology)
  • Risk Communication: A Handbook for Communicating Environmental, Safety, and Health Risks

One of the challenges I have for the ISTQB proponents is “What do you read?” You see it’s a trap. If they tell me they read widely, deeply and liberally, I contrast that with the intellectual desert that is the ISTQB Syllabus and ask them why there is such a disconnect between their education and their professional claims. And if they read narrowly, well, there you go.

If you want to be an excellent tester, you need a good education. You didn’t get that in school (or if you’re in school, you’re not getting it), so you need to do something like what I do: scout for fabulous and offbeat books about all the matters of great testing– and testing touches EVERYTHING!

[addendum: If you are not familiar with my distaste for institutional education, before picking a fight with me, go see my book, Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar. I spent 26 years doing the research by which I assert that school, although not always destructive and occasionally helpful, is certainly not necessary if you want to live a successful intellectual life. Each day of my life is another data point about how wrong were the teachers who told me I would not be successful without submitting to “the game” of school they desired me to play.]

Most of the books on my list are self-explanatory. One in particular may seem strange: the manuscript of Great Expectations. I picked that one up because the photographic images of Dickens’ original manuscript is a beautiful example of how messy the creative process is. Imagine trying to put metrics on the process of writing that, with all its crossouts and insertions.Writing is exploratory. Just. Like. Testing.

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