summing up 86

summing up is a recurring series on topics & insights on how we can make sense of computers that compose a large part of my thinking and work. drop your email in the box below to get it straight in your inbox or find previous editions here.

Twenty-Five Zeros, by Robert C. Martin

The interesting thing about where we are now, after 25 orders of magnitude in improvement in hardware, is that our software has improved by nothing like that. Maybe not even by one order of magnitude, possibly not even at all.

We go through lots of heat and lots of energy to invent new technologies that are not new technologies. They're just new reflections, new projections of old technologies. Our industry is in some sense caught in a maelstrom, in a whirlpool, from where it cannot escape. All the new stuff we do isn't new at all. It's just recycled, old stuff and we claim it's better because we've been riding a wave of 25 orders of magnitude. The real progress has not been in software, it has been in hardware. In fact there's been virtually no real, solid innovation in the fundamental technology of software. So as much as software technology changes in form, it changes very little in essence.

a very interesting talk built on the argument that hardware has advanced by extraordinary amounts, while software didn't keep pace at all. programming, our technologies and architectures are basically still the same as in early days of computing, only ever returning as recycled reflections, powered by improved hardware. my talk the lost medium last year followed a similar line of thought.

Step Off This Hurtling Machine, by Alex Feyerke

Today, we're similarly entwined with our networks and the web as we are with nature. Clearly, they're not as crucial as the plants that produce our oxygen, but the networks are becoming increasingly prevalent. They've become our nervous system, our externalised memory, and they will only ever grow denser, connecting more people and more things.

The network is the ultimate human tool and in time it will become utterly inseparable from us. We will take it with us when we eventually leave for other planets, and it will outlast many of the companies, countries, religions, and philosophies we know today. The network is never going away again.

I wish for a cultural artefact that will easily convey this notion today, that will capture the beauty and staggering opportunity of this human creation, that will make abundantly clear just how intertwined our fates are. To make clear that it is worth preserving, improving and cherishing. It's one of the few truly global, species-encompassing accomplishments that has the power to do so much for so many, even if they never have the power to contribute to it directly.

But to get there, we must not only build great tools, we must build a great culture. We will have achieved nothing if our tools are free, open, secure, private and decentralised if there is no culture to embrace and support these values.

the more technology gets entwined with humanity, the more important it is to not only see the technological benefits, but also the impacts it has on our society and culture. a sobering view on the developer community.

razzle dazzle websites, by yours truly

we're not really helping our users to find what they were looking for. in my opinion, all websites should have one and only one call to action and the whole website should support and build up to that.

your website is not about you, it is about how you can help your clients. optimize for that.

my take on what world war 1 camouflage has to do with ad-filled, chaotic websites and how we can improve.