Finally, I am about to report on my own research. In the material that preceded this chapter I have tried to present the work of others. My role has been closer to that of a journalist than a scientist. Because I have covered so much ground, my presentations may be criticized as superficial; the chapters left more unanswered than they have answered. Nevertheless, by the time the reader has reached this point, we should have a shared perception of the design process and its rational foundations. Perhaps I could have accomplished this with fewer pages or with greater focus. I did not choose that path because I wanted the reader to build a perspective of her own, a perspective in which my model of adaptive design (as well as many other alternative solutions) would seem reasonable. The environment for adaptive design that I describe in this chapther is quite old. work began on the project in 1980, and the environment was frozen in 1982. My software engineering research career began in 1985. Prior to that time I was paid to develop useful software products (i.e., applications that satisfy the sponsor’s needs). Since 1985 I have been supported by research funds to deliver research products (i.e., new and relevant knowledge). Of course, there is no clear distinction between my practitioner and research activities, and my research—despite its change in paradigm—has always had a strong pragmatic bias. Many of my software engineering research papers were published when I was developing applications, and my work at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions was accepted as research in medical informatics (i.e., how computer technology can assist the practice of medicine and the delivery of care). The approach described in this chapter emerged from attempts to improve the application of computers in medicine, and this is how I finally came to understand software development—from the perspective of complex, life-critical, open interactive information systems. There is relatively little in this chapter that has not already been published. The chapter integrates what is available in a number of overlapping (and generally unreferenced) papers. I began reporting on my approach before it was fully operational (Blum 1981), but that is not uncommon in this profession.
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