Architectural Conservation , Software Division
" Software is the heart and soul of today's array of gadgets—and, the way it is written is crucial to their operation. The problem is, however, there is no one manual dictating how it should be written. In essence, programmers now simply string together commands to make devices do what consumers expect them to do. There are no rules for software developers to follow, such as those that guide most engineering disciplines, and there is no historical frame of reference code writers can study to determine which approaches work and which do not." notes Scientific American.
It relates that IBM fellow Grady Booch,a self-styled 'Software Archaeologist' ,
"approached the board of trustees of the Computer History Museum [in Mountain View, Calif.] and told them they should also have a museum of software. It would be a sad thing…[for]…future generations if we didn't have access to the original source code for, say, Word. I can't find the original source code for [IBM's mainframe operating system]; not even IBM has it. It's hard to get access to some of this software because it's proprietary and businesses don't want their competitors to see it. We're conducting an archaeological dig for software so that future generations can study it and improve upon it.
How will the software define and use the different data it encounters? These are questions that must be answered before the software is written in the first place. In civil engineering, if you ask someone to build a Victorian house, there is an inherent understanding of what that looks like. If you ask different programmers to design software for a high-throughput system [such as one that processes financial transactions], there's no general agreement of how that software should be built."