Chapter 12. The Semantic Design Manifesto

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices / Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

TS Eliot, “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”

We have come to the end that is hopefully a beginning.

What here are we proclaiming? A definitive answer? No. A different path forward? Yes.

Proclamations of that order seem to require a manifesto.

The Manifesto

Any manifesto will reject the supposed values, claims, methods, and models of the past, proposing to replace them with new ones. An exciting age of expansion and prosperity is heralded, but only for the true-believing radicals who can see the promise of the proposed One True Light and Way. Astonishing advances have been made in the reach and power of software in the past 50 years. So we do not wish to trumpet quite such claims, which doubtless will ultimately prove facile and reduce to a fascism of the mind.

But perhaps something has occurred in the history of software that could be called the architecture of our concept of software itself. Within this field of signs, directives, meanings, and metaphors, we shape our words, and thereafter our words shape us.

Our practices have countless times failed to achieve our aims. This is obvious in our collective landscape, littered with growing project failures. Seven out of ten software projects fail by not meeting budget, timeline, or feature requirements. More than eight out of ten big data projects fail. One in six software projects fail so ...

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