If you work in software, you're used to hearing metaphors borrowed from architecture and physical construction: technical architects, software engineers, building the software, "supporting" software, servers falling over, pipes, wiring, flows... (Eric Evans is not a fan of the production line or architecture metaphors, and considers experimental science or literature as more appropriate analogues -- the latter recalling Paul Graham comparing hacking to painting, and in turn Maciej Ceglowski's rebuttal -- before deciding that the metaphoric approach is in the end as much a veil as illumination*.)
An obvious reason that software making is a recipient of analogies is that it's a discipline that's rather opaque to those that aren't practitioners. And no doubt we could go back to Lakoff to remind ourselves why metaphors are so seductive* more generally.
And we're also used to hearing about business - about the work that is work - borrowing metaphors from sport or war: teams, winning, losing, indefensible arguments, attacking problems, taking the high ground, and so on... too many examples. (At this point in this post, I'd like you to imagine you were reading a couple of thousand words on sport as the pared-down movement-time-drama essence of social dynamics, an ideal vehicle* for bearing references to human relationships and drama. If it helps, imagine this absent description of a metaphor like Dan Hill's piece on Zidane, only not written as well.) And of course, you might push the boat out* and claim that sport is itself a ritualised, civilised form - ie metaphor - for war.
So given all that, this is interesting. Via one of the best Arsenal blogs comes Arsene Wenger offering the developing footballer as a building in an interview:
Wenger's response illuminates how he moulds stars. "You build the player like a house," he says. "The basis is the technique that happens before 12. If the player can play, the next floor is the physique at 14-15. Then it the tactical ability - how to use your technique and physique in the game.
"The last part, the roof, is the mental side. If you have no roof, it rains in your house. How competitive are you? How motivated to do well every day? That is the final step. I believe that hunger is something you get at 18 and remains relatively stable during your life. That is decided between 18 and 20. And that decides careers.
"You are not born with hunger. Roy Keane was competitive [from a young age], but why? You need to be psychoanalytical to see why. Sometimes the same adversity can have a bad effect. If you have a strong father, you can fight against him or completely lie down. Maybe Roy Keane had the first reaction, to fight the father. I don't know."
So if sport is a metaphor for war, and business borrows from sport, and software borrows from architecture, the question remains: what metaphors do architects borrow to describe their work? Answers on a postcard please - perhaps one of Rob-the-architect's.
* they're everywhere, those metaphors, aren't they.