Eight Fallacies of Distributed Circus Midgets

Long-time Sun "Fellow" Peter Deutsch offers these eight fallacies of distributed computing (courtesy of James Gosling's website). The list is short and sweet, but worth driving home to anyone in your project who is showing signs of falling into these classic traps of thinking. The list works equally well for trendy web applications, especially the multi-tier variety.

There’s also some background about these eight fallacies here. And Gosling peeked back into the "mythic" origins of the list.

Deutsch published the list back in 1991. Today, the list is more relevant than ever, as it applies just as well to trendy web applications. Technically, you could say that these aren’t really fallacies anymore, because – surely – no one these days really thinks that the network has zero latency (etc). Nowadays, network computing is a natural part of our lives as software developers.

What’s more common – and just as bad – is that modern programmers increasingly just don’t seem to even think about these issues. In other words, the issue of latency, reliability etc won’t even be an issue for many developers. Scary.

Nowadays we have web frameworks, processes and quality IDEs that remove the thinking from programming; together they create the dangerous illusion that programmers are unskilled; a commodity.

It brings to mind a troupe of circus midgets who have grown so accustomed to running around on high wires that they just don’t bother to put up the safety net anymore.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.

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