You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

The Way is like /dev/null —
though you use it, it can never be filled.
Such an abyss —
it is like the beginning of all programs.

The Way manages hazardous conditions,
untangles spaghetti code,
harmonizes the user interface,
integrates the applications.

Cavernously deep,
it seems to go on forever.
I do not know whose child it is;
it seems to be the ancestor of the gods.

Read the rest of this entry »

Translating this second fundamental term to “Virtue” has worse problems with connotations than “Dao” does, but many translations that avoid translating “Dao” make free use of this term.

Again, the match is still good for my purposes, especially if you consider the full range of definitions of “virtue”, which include peculiar efficacy, power and strength, and generic excellence, in addition to the conventional connotation of moral excellence (and sexual chastity in particular, which is irrelevant here).

Since all these uses (including the last) are somewhat dated, this also helps contribute an archaic gloss to the overall text. I have similarly capitalized “Virtue” when used in the sense of the “higher virtue” of the title.

Read the rest of this entry »

When competent programmers are not promoted to management,
the developers will not be contentious.
When prized equipment is not scarce
the developers will not steal it.
When executive perks are not flaunted,
the developers will not be disgruntled.

Therefore, the Consultant’s advice:
distract their attention and fill their bellies,
weaken their ambitions and improve their benefits.

In this way, you enable the developers
to remain objective and without preconception,
and keep office politics down to a dull roar.

By taking action without force,
all will proceed without disruption.

Read the rest of this entry »

Many translations choose to leave “Dao” untranslated, due to the complicated connotations of the term. Arguably, these connotations are complicated in part due to 2300 years of exposure to the Dao De Jing.

In any case the match is quite good enough for my purposes. I have been pretty consistent about capitalizing “Way” in this sense, which seems to give the result a nice archaic feel, as well as labelling it properly as a term of art.

Read the rest of this entry »

All the world knows there is beauty;
therefore, there is also ugliness.
All the world knows there is competence;
therefore, there is also incompetence.

One and zero generate each other,
difficult and easy complement each other,
long and short are relative to each other,
high-level and low-level complete each other,
signal and noise fill the channel together,
head and tail follow in sequence
— all these, their essential natures.

Therefore, the Consultant
takes action without force,
and speaks without voice.

The ten thousand programs —
he writes the code, but does not commission it;
he debugs the program, but does not rely on it;
he completes the project, but does not maintain it.

Well, it is only because he does not maintain it
that his code will live on forever.

Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to The Way of the Consultant!

I should start out by making it clear that, if you feel like it, you can read the whole thing at once: I have put up a website with the entire book at

However, I have posted the first chapter below, and my plan is to post all 81 chapters in turn, one by one, roughly one per weekday (which should last a while). Also, there will be links, glossary terms, commentary, and anything else I happen to think of.

If anything you read here particularly resonates with you, feel free to leave a comment. Likewise, if you particularly disagree with something, if you have an interesting link, if anything is unclear, or if there’s something you feel could be done better…

The way that can be spoken is not the essential Way;
the name that can be chosen is not an essential name.

The nameless is the origin of ten thousand programs;
names are the source of the ten thousand programs.

To understand the subtleties, be truly objective;
to outline the requirements, be truly subjective.

These two come forth together, but are named differently.
Together they are called Design:
blackest of the black arts,
gateway to many mysteries.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 2009

Post Categories