And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul?

Surely, Plato said, knowledge is the food of the soul. Personally I’m not too sure about that soul thingy, but knowledge, understanding, and one day maybe even wisdom, can surely come in handy.

During James Bach’s tutorial at Let’s Test in May we were asked to draw a diagram describing our approach to testing. Not as easy a task as one might immediately think  unless you have already given it a try and thought about it. Let’s just say my first attempt was not quite as impressive as the one James showed us, even if it too contained some circles.

The funny coincidence was that just before going to Let’s Test I had decided it was time to sit down and think things through once or twice. There is a lot of “truths” about testing I have read and heard over the last few years after I woke up and started studying the craft a bit more, but in the attempt to absorb the wast amounts of good thoughts an ideas out there in the blogosphere, the Software Testing Club and various other sources, I have not been remotely good enough at internalising the stuff I read and “learn”.

Unless you can describe and explain your thoughts and ideas to others, or at least write them down somewhat coherently for yourself, you can’t really say good and clear understanding that you truly own. Everybody can quote the smart guys and pretend to be their peers, but it only holds up until somebody talks back to you ask what you really mean. I guess one could get away with that if just staying in the safe confines of the test lab, but once you start going to places of awesomeness to meet large groups of brilliant people it feels a bit ridiculous not being able to contribute much.

So, In an attempt to work on my “ownership” issues, I’m trying to slow down a bit as John Stevenson suggested a little while ago and have a look at the fundamentals. One part of that was finally getting through How to Read a Book in order to get some tips on how to get more out of the books and papers I read (I have found that osmosis is not a particularly effective strategy). I have also vowed not to start reading (many) more books before I have finished the ones I am already reading, and given some thought about what I learned from these books. This is going to be a problem as I think I have an Amazon-addiction… and just bought a Kindle to boot. The other thing I’m trying is to sit down (or actually I stand by the computer in my “library”) and write a bit, and sort out my definitions and thoughts. Some of that might probably show up here from time to time.

So off we go, seeking knowledge and understanding. Mapping the uncharted territories 🙂

On Testing...

3 thoughts on “And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul?

  1. Hi Geir,

    I missed this at the time you first published it, but I’ve been asking myself similar questions around my understanding of testing in the past week or two, so the discovery of this post is very conveniently timed.

    Is your mindmap finished (as in it will always evolve, but the framework is bedded down) or is it still very much a work in progress right now?

    1. Hi Dean,

      I have made several attempts at general mindmaps but new ideas and segments keep popping up and I keep changing how it is organised. It is very much a work in progress and I suspect it always will be. I have had multiple maps dealing with different topics, or for different use (collecting ideas from others, ideas for blog posts, etc.). This one is mostly for illustrative purposes and will likely change into something else too 🙂

      I think the important thing is not really the form, but that I get better at writing down ideas and elaborate on them a bit. One thing is that it makes it easier to actually remember what I thought about, and what I thought about it, but forcing yourself to put it down on “paper” also helps you recognise things you are not that clear or sure about.

      Thanks for commenting.

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