Lizard brain surgery

This isn't just a Windows phenomenon, of course. Every major software system has, at its core, what Dave Winer likes to call a lizard brain. The roots of Linux reach down through many layers to its lizard brain. Mac OS X archeologists can explore not only that same deep history but also a parallel 15-year NextStep legacy. Every software architect longs for a chance to reorganize -- or as they like to say, "refactor" -- to a simpler and stronger foundation for new layered abstractions. Few organizations have the resources to maintain and evolve a working system while mercilessly refactoring to produce its successor. Microsoft is among the lucky few. We'll see, in a couple of years, how well Longhorn has exploited that rare opportunity. [Full story at]
The original title of this column was "Lizard brain surgery." It was problematic because of the Mozilla echo, but I doubt that's why the editors changed it. More likely they thought it too offbeat for the print publication.

Editors of print pubs are always struggling with headlines, and making hard decisions. There aren't good ways to test those decisions though, because the feedback loop in print publishing is so attenuated. The Web can inject more science into that difficult art. When headline A is chosen over B and C, save B and C, and use them in rotation on the website. Track the efficacy of A, B, and C. True, the Web audience is not the print audience. But it would be interesting data. Does anyone do this?

Update: A funny twist. I put lizard brain surgery into my GoogleBox and the first of the only two hits it came up with was Kevin McKean's editorial from this week. So the headline actually printed was either Lizard brain surgery or What's holding sofware back?. I guess I'll find out which when my copy of the print magazine lands in my mailbox in a couple of hours.

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