Software and making pots

imageThis is what software feels like. It’s squishy and floppy, and it falls over from time to time while you’re making it. It changes. And at the end of the day, we’d really, really, really like it to hold water. Or marbles, or kittens, or whatever people want to put into it.

I think I’m going to focus on slowing down and building things better. This idea of a minimally viable product fascinates me. What’s the essential part of a system? How can we make that solid before moving to everything else? Make sure the pot can hold water before you glaze it.

There’s a teaching story I like about the importance of practice. Making lots of pots can be an easier and more effective way to learn than trying to make a single perfect pot, as long as you’re paying attention and learning from the pots you make. Well, that’s how the story goes. In real life, it’s more like “But I want to make sure this pot holds water, and why aren’t the sides straight, and I thought I plugged that leak, ooh, hey, look, that part’s all pretty now, well, here goes…”

  • A lot depends though on WHO you are making your pots for doesn’t it? If I am making something for myself I am not to bothered about appearance, at least not initially. Function is the main requirement (not talking about ‘art’ here where I guess appearance is the main requirement!). Also, how many times will I use it. A leaky pot is fine if I am only going to use it once and I can do the job with it, provided it does not add TOO much time to the task. Of course if it leaks too much then you have to fix it, at least to some extent but again, it does not have to be perfect.
    But. If I am making a pot fore someone else then an additional set of criteria apply. Notice I say additional and not different. The pot still has to work and do it’s job but now it should not leak at all. It should also be durable, I might add a ‘feature or two’ (sound familiar?) like a spout and handles to make it easier to use. I will probably even try to make it aesthetically pleasing to the eye. A nice chrome finish, while adding little to the pots usability makes it look nice when not in use. It extends it’s function to being a piece or art as much as it is a usable tool.

  • Mmm, it saved my comment there for some reason before I was done! Oh well, onwards…
    There’s the old story about “how do you get to Carnegie hall? Practice, practice, practice”. Well it turns out that you can just rent it! Sometimes it not about being the best, it’s about just getting out there and doing it. As an example I offer myself. I play the piano (badly in my own opinion) and ever since I was a kid I have ever thought of myself as being ‘good enough’ to play for others. In my view I had to be ‘perfect’ and I never was (my mother was a semi professional musician so I had high standards to live up to). Fast forward to a couple of years ago and I decided to go to an informal ‘no stress’ blues meet up ‘just to try it’. I’d had a couple of ‘attempts at this in the past but nothing ever ‘stuck’. I always felt like I was not good enough (as usual). However this crowd of people was a lot different, just doing it for fun. Long story short, I now play keys in a band.
    Now, I am not really any better at playing than I was before. I still make mistakes but I have discovered that it does not matter too much. It does not have to be ‘perfect’ .
    I suspect that the same is true of pots (and other things). Sure, we have come to expect that commercially made (ie machine made) goods be pretty much perfect and of reasonable quality but when it comes to the ‘personal’ stuff, a degree of imperfection actually adds to the ‘charm’. That does not mean it should not work but the odd ‘flaw’ is ok at times too, it sort of implies that this was made by ‘people’.