Recently, our company graduated to CMM level 3. It was a tough ride for last 4-5 months, not only for the management, but also for the developers and their superlatives, as they underwent a series of lectures, seminars, and talks to understand and implement various requisite layers. I had to attend few of them. Then, I did not realize what importance it might carry, I mean, how would the mugged-up knowledge about the standards, goals, and even of the project execution plan help us to improve our performance – thence our position in the industry.
Yesterday, I was reading an essay by ‘Dwarka Singh’ who was talking about Plato and his impression on the modern art and culture. The basic of all things, especially art, is an ‘Idea’ which first takes shape in the brain, then gets mulled over to form a pattern, and then it is conveyed, first in words, then the other forms. Since a copy can never be as perfect as the original is, art is doubly far from the reality. There is nothing as real as any ‘Idea’ can be. When you see a tree, it is nothing but a projection of an ‘Idea about the tree’. Art is remote to the reality and so Plato despised all kind of art, be it poetry, drama, oratory, or paintings. He had a simple basic logic behind it: anything that doesn’t contribute to building up the character of men or to the welfare of state is of no worth, but art goes a step ahead and pinions men into an idea of misery. At first, I found it completely logical. Indeed, if you are not getting anything in return, then, why waste time? Plato said that poetry often stems in from a momentous barrage of emotion, not by deliberate contemplation. It depicts men, as an individual, rather than a member of society. It tends to end up in misery, and often makes false assumptions – accusing God for his unfairness, and heroes of deprived love. Drama on the other had is meant to be staged before men of various interests and prejudices, hence they often portray ‘hatred’, ‘combat’, ‘betrayal’ heroically as these are what every men have in common. They play it safe. And similarly, Plato spews his strictures over other form of art. What I appreciate about this man, Plato, is the clear distinction he made between good and bad, between things acceptable and rejectable – however illusionary it might be. This man certainly didn’t know about the positive impact of art. This man didn’t know that in future generation science, psychology, administration, and even his patronizing Philosophy would be treated as ‘a kind of art’.
This essay reminded me of my training sessions in CMM 3. These sessions were much deliberated over, not an impulsive out-poring, and hence were easier to grasp and implement.
Reminiscence of my inchoate days, when I was new and naïve, came fluttering over my senses. I used to be assigned a task, and my goals were to complete that as curtly as possible. If we had to build a database connection, we built a new ‘class’ every time for every other project. If we had to solve a peculiar problem, of course, it took a deep R&D, we would work hard to solve and then in elation of getting at the end we would forget everything, all sweat, all toil, and the next time if we confronted similar problem we would restart the journey, would walk the same path again. There was no knowledge sink. Noting where we could flood our hard-gained techniques. The first thing that CMM asked us was to implement a knowledge base. Something that people in general didn’t like. See! It wasn’t a drama after all, and it wasn’t targeted to make every soul happy. Plato talked about ‘the welfare of state’. Though, he wasn’t all correct in relating it with art. So, somehow CMM, at first abstracted my attention and I devised few rational to boost my distraction. I said: CMM is like an overhead with all those documents and procedures that only increases the ‘redundancy quotient’. And few of my colleagues joined in to this theory. Then one night, while talking to the client I realized the value of this ‘condemned redundancy’. He inquired about a bug we solved two weeks earlier. And I had no hint on it. I couldn’t answer. A minute spent today might save you a day later. I started documenting everything I learnt then onwards.
I was like Plato when I graduated from the engineering school. I despised everything that I found fruitless then. I never envisioned what might be their impact one year later or so. For me, my personal growth was the highest on priority. And I could not grasp the impact of discipline. I thought of it as an illusionary concept that only binds you. I thought of defense personals, and of their robotic movements, as if they had caged themselves into a fence. Don’t move this way, don’t walk like this, eat properly, behave gentle-manly to women, and so on; as if they were trained to not to be themselves. And I accused ‘discipline’ for that.
While coding, I understood the laws and nature of discipline. Write in proper braces, with proper style, easy to read, and with adherence to naming conventions, structures and all. I despised it at first and so my superlatives. But later, I understood its necessity. It was not like ‘not being myself’ but like ‘evolving myself’ in a better creed perhaps!
We have to grow past Plato, envision the reality, whatever it might be, and however it might be. Unless, can we distinguish between what is real and what is just an image? This world was there before we begot. We might be the ‘Idea of the world’; this world is certainly not the ‘image of our idea’.