I attended a presentation yesterday by Kent Beck, one of the big names in software development, who had been invited to talk to the developer community at the company I work for. I went with great expectations and came away quite disappointed.

The title of the talk was “Trends in Agile Development” and the premise was that trends in software development methodologies mirror larger trends in business and in society – increasing accountability, transparency and responsibility, and increasing focus on relationships. Unfortunately he didn’t manage to actually say much more about this than what I wrote above, despite talking for an hour and a half (plus about half an hour of Q&A time). This could have been interesting if he had pointed out some non-obvious conclusions, or explained why we are seeing what we are seeing, or what this can lead to. Now he just stated the obvious.

The audience seemed to agree. Most of the Q&A time was spent on more technical aspects of Agile Development. There was only one question about the specific topic (about how these trends relate to the growth of open source software) and he didn’t really answer that question.

Kent Beck may be a good programmer, and he may have done some good thinking about programming methodology, but he is not a sociologist.