Ghost structures

Cities around the world are filled with streets that are no longer streets. It isn’t too hard to spot the diagonal, no-longer-street “street” in the above photo because of its clear impact to the surrounding buildings.

You can see more in Geoff Manaugh’s blog post about “ghost streets” (Bldgblog).

If you zoom in then you see that the diagonal “street” isn’t actually a street, but building shapes, property lines or other forms of outdoor areas (like a car park).

These ghost streets – or ghost structures – are also a good metaphor for something you’ll find in software systems. Previous design decisions aren’t always re-assessed – too many to re-assess all of them – and especially if you are replacing an existing system, then it becomes very difficult to re-design the new system, because it must by necessity integrate with all the other systems (and it is a lot of work to re-work all of those).

The net result is that your new system with the new architecture and design is not as new as you think.

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