Professionalism And Thermodynamics

For the last month or so, I’ve been having a serious problem with the apparent lack of professionalism in the software development industry as a whole. There are many factors contributing to this and many different aspects of the problem. I’m not going to go into any detail on the issues I’m seeing, at this point, though. It will be sufficient, for the moment, to simply state that there is a serious lack of professionalism in our industry.

I’ve been discussing this issue with my dad, recently, and this morning he sent me an email that I thought was worth sharing with the world.

Today’s thought is to remind the team that life in general is determined by the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics. All matter (systems) go from a state of order to disorder with out any outside input.

[From Wikipedia]:

“The second law of thermodynamics is an expression of the universal law of increasing entropy, stating that the entropy of an isolated system which is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.

The second law traces its origin to French physicist Sadi Carnot‘s 1824 paper Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which presented the view that motive power (work) is due to the fall of caloric (heat) from a hot to cold body (working substance). In simple terms, the second law is an expression of the fact that over time, ignoring the effects of self-gravity, differences in temperature, pressure, and density tend to even out in a physical system that is isolated from the outside world. Entropy is a measure of how far along this evening-out process has progressed.

There are many versions of the second law, but they all have the same effect, which is to explain the phenomenon of irreversibility in nature.”


Bottom line is that the point of natural human equilibrium is far below the level of professionalism demanded by our responsibilities to work, self, family and others.

The Point … doing what’s natural or going with the flow points life in the downward direction every time.  Let’s tweak the line upward… put some thought and energy into it.

Robert D. Bailey   12-04-2008  

About Derick Bailey

Derick Bailey is an entrepreneur, problem solver (and creator? :P ), software developer, screecaster, writer, blogger, speaker and technology leader in central Texas (north of Austin). He runs - the amazingly awesome podcast audio hosting service that everyone should be using, and where he throws down the JavaScript gauntlets to get you up to speed. He has been a professional software developer since the late 90's, and has been writing code since the late 80's. Find me on twitter: @derickbailey, @mutedsolutions, @backbonejsclass Find me on the web: SignalLeaf, WatchMeCode, Kendo UI blog, MarionetteJS, My Github profile, On Google+.
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  • One of the physics professors at my old uni named his house “High Entropy” on account of it always being in a state of disorder!

  • I think I’ve made a similar argument in the past. In fact, I believe that entropy is a factor in any social entity and energy must constantly be expended to avert or lessen its effects.

    Unfortunately, sometimes expending the energy necessary to offset entropy in an organization may be too great for an individual…leading to burn out.

  • @Josh

    “Unfortunately, sometimes expending the energy necessary to offset entropy in an organization may be too great for an individual…leading to burn out.”

    very true. i’ve burned out more than once in my continuous struggle. I’m very fortunate in my current project to have a tech-lead who is fighting along side me. even with a partner in the fight, burn-out is still a real possibility. It takes an entire team to fight the entropy, in my experience.