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The Architect, The Engineer, and a Hot Air Baloon

April 12, 2011


“…Architecture is an answer to a question. So many architects strive for accuracy in their “answers” (the architectural diagrams they produce), and we see countless discussions of the “correct” way to model this thing or that… but while accuracy is great, usefulness is so much more important…”



A Man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a person below. He descended a bit more and shouted…

“Excuse me, can you help? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am”

The person thought carefully for five minutes, and then replied…

“You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude”

“You must be an engineer” said the Baloonist.

“I am” replied the person. “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the Baloonist…

“you took a long time to respond, and everything you told me is technically correct, but it is of no value to my problem. I am still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help so far.”

The Engineer below responded, “You must be an Architect”

“I am” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the Engineer…

“you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault!”

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