Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 2:07 AM

"We're breaking your city. Deal with it."

Imagine if, after spending ten years building the new World Trade Center in NYC, the developer sees a tweet from the current mayor of the city saying "I'm so glad that the NYC Street Authority has adopted semantic versioning." You click the link, and see something you can't believe. They're remapping the streets of the city.

A friendly message from the Streets Commissioner:

"Don't worry, all your favorite streets will still be there in the new version, New York City 8.0. But we've improved things. Broadway will run east-west instead of the old inefficient north-south route. Now it will connect the Hudson and East rivers! You'll be able to use Broadway to get to Brooklyn or New Jersey. We encourage developers to build new tunnels that cross these two wonderful third party opportunities."

There are other changes. The subway system is being phased out. You think to yourself, oh, now there won't be any way for the people who work in the WTC to get here. That might be a problem.

But the worst thing of all, you notice, where your building stands, the new plan calls for a sewage treatment plant. You check your spam folder and find an email informing you of the change. They hope you enjoy the transition. There are lots of spots available in the new roadmap. The former site of Grand Central Terminal. The spot where Yankee Stadium now stands. Two great examples. There's lots of space in Wyoming! We hope your development team enjoys moving your 100-story building to one of these fantastic spots.

Of course cities don't work like this

They can't. Buildings require major capital investment, and years of work to build. Infrastructure forms around them. Broadway is an old street dating back to when New York was a Dutch colony. Even if all the buildings in Lower Manhattan were to disappear overnight, I have no doubt the new ones will respect the location of Broadway. That's why cities like New York grow. If they worked as described above, they'd be wastelands.

But software does

This kind of breakage is routine in software. Most people don't understand software, even the people who own the software and the people who use it, who depend on it. It's unnecessary. I don't know why we put up with it. It's why progress is so elusive. Why we lose so much software every few years. It's the excuse big companies offer for their ageism. It's insidious, wasteful, lazy, corrupt and selfish.

PS: Buildings do sometimes have to move. One that I worked in did, when the university wanted to build a great new hall where it stood. It was a historic landmark so it had to be preserved. Here's a photo set that documents the building on the move. It's a very weird sight.

Last built: Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 5:50 PM

By Dave Winer, Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 2:07 AM. Only steal from the best.