Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The Pace of Change

I’m not the first, nor the only, person to complain about the pace of technical change.  But what are the actual problems?

We risk losing perspective.  We will forget that the fad of today is just another fad; blockchains and containers are destined to be the next XML, relatively soon in their life, then carried forward for thirty years because changing infrastructure is too risky for the business.

We risk losing the wisdom of the past, assuming even our own younger selves were but naked savages, coding in Perl or PHP. We will not know what made Perl, Perl; we will not bring any of the good ideas forward.

Truly, we risk losing experts. It took me a good 10 or 15 years to really appreciate the sheer amount of knowledge that makes an expert, an expert; if we burn our world down every five years, then we will never come to know anything deeply.  We will have no experts.

Where I used to worry about becoming “a dinosaur,” it now seems that dinosaurs going extinct are the larger problem.

But what is the actual problem?

Pride, perhaps?  Are we too snobby to learn about what came before, to understand our place in history, and to meet the present where it’s at?  Do we think there is nothing to learn about a system in reading its code, in making improvements to it, that we must replace it outright?

Is it ignorance?  Or is it the deep, white-guy need to fall into the pit himself, before he believes it to be there?  Do we really believe that it was jQuery that created the spaghetti, and not ourselves?  Will abandoning one library for another genuinely improve our own capabilities… or is it a convenient deflection?

I am inclined to shout, “just deal with it!” at people.  They probably want to shout it back to me.