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Your code does not exist in a vacuum

  • Becky Yoose, yoosebec at grinnell dot edu, Grinnell College

“If you have something to say, then say it in code…” - Sebastian Hammer,
code4lib 2009

In its 10 year run, code4lib has covered the spectrum of libtech
development, from search to repositories to interfaces. However, during
this time there has been little discussion about this one little fact
about development - code does not exist in a vacuum.

Like the comment above, code has something to say. A person’s or
organization’s culture and beliefs influences code in all steps of the
development cycle. What development method you use, tools, programming
languages, licenses - everything is interconnected with and influenced
by the philosophies, economics, social structures, and cultural beliefs
of the developer and their organization/community.

This talk will discuss these interconnections and influences when one
develops code for libraries, focusing on several development practices
(such as “Fail Fast, Fail Often” and Agile) and licensing choices (such
as open source) that libtech has either tried to model or incorporate
into mainstream libtech practices. It’ll only scratch the surface of the
many influences present in libtech development, but it will give folks a
starting point to further investigate these connections at their own
organizations and as a community as a whole.

tl;dr - this will be a messy theoretical talk about technology and
libraries. No shiny code slides, no live demos. You might come out of
this talk feeling uncomfortable. Your code does not exist in a vacuum.
Then again, you don’t exist in a vacuum either.

A selected bibliography of the talk can be viewed at

PDF icon Speaker script and slides804.12 KB