Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 11:19 AM

Talking about our mistakes

Well the Badgers lost last night, and it was a heart-breaker. But it was also a great basketball game. So much to learn, even in a loss. Which leads me to another interesting topic.

In tech, we seem to never talk about our mistakes. But we should. Not only because we keep making them, but we keep making them worse and worse.

A really interesting tweet from Rob Beschizza this morning. "Dijkstra might have been wrong about BASIC, but telling beginner coders to learn HTML and CSS is like telling chess players to eat wood."

What if...

I wonder what would have happened if tech had evolved differently. What if instead of Apple adopting Hypercard as the future though it ignored almost everything that was good about the Mac, what if they had embraced something radically different, like Turbo Pascal. And what if networking on the Mac platform had been as easy as HTTP, five years before. We could have had both graphic operating systems and networking emanating from the same place of simplicity. Then a novice programmer would be presented a development environment where Hello World was as simple as typing writeline ("hello world") instead of the mess that of today's stack..

CSS, HTML, JavaScript

Today a beginning coder has to deal with a programming environment with three different incompatible languages with very different styles. Why? No one really thought about it. We didn't use the best ingredients we had at the time, for some reason. Why isn't QuickDraw part of the full-stack developers toolkit? Why did we throw that know-how out? And can we avoid doing that in the future?

We never get dug in on a platform for long enough to actually fix the annoyances. Before that happens the pavement has been ripped up and the streets run in different places and directions, and the buildings we were using to store our data are cut off from the grid.

We don't talk about our mistakes

Back to basketball, it's as every class of one and done freshmen were running the NCAA instead of 40-year coaches. We in tech, in an art that matters from an economic and societal standpoint, it's everything we build around, we throw out what we've learned every decade or so. And start over. That's a scandal. We don't talk about it because.. why??

Probably because no one cares as long as we're creating a few billionaires every year, it must all be working, right?

Hah. No it's not.

PS: You see this happening today as some podcasts forget to publish RSS feeds with enclosures. Most still do. We should encourage them to stick with it, because this is a good thing from stacks-of-the-past.

Last built: Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:06 AM

By Dave Winer, Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 11:19 AM. Ask not what the Internet can do for you.