I went to a presentation by Ron Jacobs at the SDNUG last night on his view of what a software architect is, and what they do (apart from the obvious - draw lots of boxes on whiteboards). Having worked on some larger projects its become apparent that architecture can make a huge difference, not only in the success of the project but also to the experiences (both good and bad) of the developers working in that project. It may sound selfish, but as a developer that makes a huge difference to my daily life.
Ron’s presentation style was very engaging, and there was no sense amongst the audience that this was “another lunatic escaped from the ivory tower”. Ron is looking beyond the field of software development and has found some interesting insights as to what an architect is. I believe Ron is in Australia for a little longer, so if you get a chance to hear him speak at your local user group you should check him out, or alternatively you can catch him in podcast form via his “arc-casts”.