Scrub that, I am a sociologist.
Being a sociologist doesn’t require a degree or a paid job title; it requires critical thought of the world at large. I did this before I ever gained the language to express it.
Taking an A-level course at age 16 in Sociology was one of the best decisions I ever made.
My teacher John Whincup was incredible in his ability to relate ideas and spur thought. He was the embodiment of everything you wanted in a teacher. He was able to entertain, engage and inform in an effortlessly charismatic fashion. I realised the thought-processes he was encouraging were how my mind already worked; I just needed the vocabulary. He mentored me and I’m grateful for the fact we still keep in contact fifteen years on.
After this period I went onto become a Computer Science and Sociology degree student and after a few years I became a Comp Sci degree dropout and eventually gained my B.A in Sociology. I then spent quite a few years having a fun and enriching time; although most people would probably call it being a loser.
Somehow I ended up working in Social Policy for a well-known British charity but due to various factors I couldn’t continue there. Through another serendipitous turn of events in November 2012 I ended up in the world of software testing.
I instantly felt at home.
After becoming acclimatised in my workplace I began to thirst for more knowledge. I wanted to understand the wider world of testing. I discovered the context-driven school of testing, James Bach and Michael Bolton who relate Cem Kaner’s idea that testing is a social science.
Now that got my attention.
Software testing is a social science.
I mulled it over and continue to do so. The idea that the digital software is just a vehicle, a human wrote it and a human is testing it. We have a collision of ideas; the interfacing of humans over the software is inherently social. Apparently requirements always suck which when thinking about it isn’t surprising. We humans can often suck at relating ideas to others, especially when we don’t know the person. Our interactions are littered with misunderstandings and that’s with people in our immediate life who may know us very well.
So as testers, we aren’t just testing software we’re also trying to understand the thoughts of the people who created it.
Another thing that rung bells with my sociology education was James Bach’s calculator exercise.
Now compare that to this classic sociology exercise which was one of the first things I remember John Whincup teaching.
There is a room with two people and a candle is lit, why?
Hopefully there are a number of things going through your head.
There is no definitive answer to this question. This question is designed to ignite thoughts. It should make you realise that a scenario can have many different reasons for occurring. The question doesn’t teach you sociology, it teaches you how to think critically which is the entire basis of sociology.
The calculator exercise works in a similar way, it makes you ask yourself the questions that get your brain to work critically.
This blog will continue to record my attempt to apply what I’ve learnt from sociology into the world of testing.