The Three Generations of Code

The code age analysis was inspired by the work of Dan North, who introduced the idea of short software half-life as a way to simplify code. North claims that we want our code to be either very recent or old, and the kind of code that’s hard to understand lies in between these two extremes.[53] North’s observation ties in with how human memory works, so let’s take a brief detour into the science of forgetting before we return to code age and see how it impacts our ability to understand systems.

In Your Mental Models of Code, we saw how our brain makes sense of code by building cognitive schemas. Unfortunately, those mental models aren’t fixed. That’s why we may find ourselves cursing a particular design choice ...

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