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A "Silver Bullet" (also called a MagicBullet) is a clean, easy, simple, neat, cheap solution to a problem. Silver bullets solve the problem completely and have no unwanted side-effects. The only problem with them is they are extremely rare in practice -- enough so that they can be considered a fantasy for practical purposes.

There's an old saying in engineering: "Good, fast, cheap. Pick any two." It applies here. So does the so-called "Law of Unintended Consequences".

The usage of "silver bullet" in computer circles is doubtless influenced by Fred Brooks's essay on software engineering, "There is no Silver Bullet". That essay was first published in Computer magazine in April 1987. It was later collected in the 1995 edition of The Mythical Man-Month. Copies are readily available on the InterNet (use Google). While Brooks's work was in the context of software engineering, a lot of his observations can be generalized to group communications and projects. His writings may provide insights which may be useful to the online organizing that MeatballProject is about. It is certainly educational to learn what progress software engineering has and has not made.

Silver bullets are famous from mythology as being the only way (or one of the only ways) to kill various evil nasty things (witches, giants, werewolves, etc., depending on who you ask).


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