Before I was ever a tester or even in software or even cared about software, I was in Puzzles class. This was a class I took as part of the hippie-powered liberal arts program where I spent my first 2 years in college at Appalachian State University. Doesn’t it sound like a fun class?
Well…despite my best efforts, it bored the hell out of me. There are many testers for whom this class would have been a dream because it was all about logic puzzles, but I find philosophy and talking about logic absolutely, stultifyingly BOR-I.N.G. Even if I try to listen and do the whole “fake it ’til you make it” bit, my eyes glass over and it’s obvious fairly quickly that I just don’t care. At this point in my life, I know that philosophy will never turn me on and I own it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s gold to be had in philosphy for the field of testing. I won’t be discovering it. I have lots of respect for people such as Rick Scott and Zeger von Hese who can throw down with this and make something important and gorgeous out of it. (Go dudes!)
This means that I obviously didn’t learn that much in my puzzles class. In fact, there’s not much I even remember. I only have one memory from puzzles, but it’s come back into my life lately in a very bizarre way. It’s helping me format the paper I’m writing for PNSQC. Here goes:
The only thing I’ve remembered is the day that I showed up for class and our puzzles teacher told the class,”We’re going to destroy the world today.”
Apparently it’s possible to use philosophy to reason oneself into a logical position where the world cannot possibly exist. Of course, I have no memory of how this is done or what it involves. Philosophy leaves me too cold for that.
Anyway, the memory of my teacher’s words and his intentions, “let’s destroy the world,” have come back to me. I’ve found myself rolling down a dusty and, at times, lonely road in my personal journey of software testing. I have a ton of friends in this industry and I’m sure some of them will identify with what I’m talking about. It’s entirely possible to find yourself in a crowded room full of people you love and still feel totally alone. There are those of us in testing who live in this type of “walled garden” because we’ve burned through the ceiling of what a tester is allowed to be within our own ecosystem.
There are other types of fail showing up on the testing doorstep as well: Devs often fear or hate us, our value is questioned on lots of projects and nobody ever starts their software career wanting to be a tester. In fact, there are plenty of people who are in testing simply because it’s the only job they could get in software. (I’m not saying it’s right, but we all know it happens.)
As testers, we’ve become adept at assigning blame for this. Schools don’t teach enough testing, managers don’t understand how we bring value and devs just don’t give a shit. What I’ve noticed is that we never ever point the finger at ourselves. In my own testing journey I’ve come to a place where I’ve started ripping apart who I am as a tester and asking myself, the classic Dr. Phil question, “how’s that working for you?”
I’m now at the end of the road.
I am not a tester.
You heard me.
I AM NOT A TESTER.
and, in my world, neither are you… even if you’ve got 20 years under your belt, a fat paycheck and a bad attitude which you think makes you the greatest thing to smack the devs on the ass since the black turtleneck.
I am not a philosopher, but I’ve managed to destroy the world where I work<.
If we really want to evolve testing, if we really want to find something new it’s time to throw out the hubris and rip what we do down the studs, the bare earth, the beating heart if we’re ever to find answers to some of the hard questions that have dogged testing for years:
- Why are we in testing?
- Do we really care about the software? or do we only care about making ourselves look good on the software team?
- Why is there such a love/hate relationship between devs and testers or even testers who write code and testers who don’t?
- Why is it so easy for testers to feel ostracized on software projects?
- Why do most testers not see themselves in testing in 5 years?
If you take away the tester, the dev and the software, what’s left? In “The Neverending Story” this is when there is only one small, solitary grain of sand left. I do think we’ve got a bit more than that. At the end of the day, all of we’ve really got is being human.
Let’s get to the bottom where the beating heart lies and start rebuilding on something more solid than a job nobody ever wanted until they “fell into it.” Let’s destroy the world.