Running with the Red Queen

Posted: October 2, 2012 in Testing Profession, Testing Skills & Education

In advance, I apologise for the “whine” that is mixed deeply into this entry…

Just the other morning, I came across Michael Bolton’s excellent articles on the premises of Rapid Software Testing (RST).  RST is something that I’ve been keenly interested in, but haven’t had the opportunity to fully follow up on it yet.  On a quick tangent, his point five struck an especial chord with me – “our purpose is to discover the status of the product and any threats to its value…”.  In my opinion, this is our primary task – not to act as gatekeepers, quality police or (heaven forbid) nerd patrol, but to provide pertinent information to allow others to make decisions regarding the software for release.  But I digress…

His point two mentioned the “Red Queen Effect”, a theory where “you must run as fast as you can just to stay in the same place” (and twice as fast again to get anywhere).  This comes from the world of Alice in Wonderland, particularly the story “Through The Looking Glass”.   Bolton was elaborating on how we in the software development world often try to do more than what our resources allow.  It also feels like an excellent metaphor for the ever-developing world of “software testing skill, methodological and attitudinal development” and my current position among these eternally shifting winds of change.

Take, for example, a brilliant blog post from this chap Arborosa – an article outlining his take on dendogram-based testing.  Don’t know what a dendogram is?  Well, I was right there with you only a couple of days ago.  The post explains what a dendogram is (I’ll leave you hanging on the edge of your seat in suspense, but please, read this excellent article), and then goes on to illustrate how a particular style of testing can apply the concept of a dendogram.

It was a fascinating but somewhat sobering read.  As I struggle with growing beyond the “basics” of testing, it seems new concepts, ideas and methodologies from both known and emerging “thought leaders” in the testing world are leaving me in their wake, no matter how fast I scramble after them.  And while all you can do is pick and choose the pursuits you follow, it seems at the best of times a daunting challenge, and one the Red Queen is all too keen to remind me about.

OK, I feel better now.

  1. Hey – the link to arborosa’s post is busted. Missing colon after “http”. Fine blog, good luck!

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