[linux-elitists] Get off my lawn.

Phil Mayers p.mayers at imperial.ac.uk
Sun Mar 13 08:12:25 PDT 2016


On 12/03/16 18:53, Don Marti wrote:

> Database as a service, function calls as a service, and
> of course storage and CDN as a service.  All tied
> together by a single-page JavaScript application.

But, but... my years of now-obsolete experience?!?!

I'm sure the industry will keep clinging to the best the 1970s has to 
offer for a few more years yet. After all, there's no reason IT should 
be any different to any other human endeavour :o(

Sarcasm aside, I wish them luck - our current approaches work well for 
some problems, but badly for others. Even if their approach fails, the 
manner of failure should be instructive, and we desperately need to 
start thinking as a profession about the long-term endpoint of our efforts.

I'm not sure if it'll happen or if I'll live long enough to see it, but 
if hardware performance eventually tops out and we reach a stable 
saturation point of computing for any length of time - say a couple of 
human lifespans - I suspect we'll see one of three outcomes:

1. A software engineering discipline with well-accepted principles of 
design, widespread commonality of tools and standards, and a few well 
accepted ways to attack a given problem - sort of like Civil 
Engineering, but for code.

2. What Vernor Vinge called a "mature programming environment" - this is 
not what you might think if you've not come across his work. "Programmer 
archaeologist" is a job title. Bugs lurk dozens of layers deep in code 
centuries old. And given the volume of code, ground-up rewrites are, 
basically, impossible.

3. Software written by software written by software written by... Either 
AI or something so close to it that the resultant code is as 
incomprehensible to an unaided human as the full DNA code of a living 
creature.

FWIW my money is on #2 - half my job already feels like archaeology, and 
if I have to spend another half-day doing something as apparently simple 
as deploying a WSGI application, I might quit and become a plumber. At 
least it's up-front that you have to deal with s**t.

So good luck to 'em - maybe it'll steer us towards option #1.

Quite how they'll license it to avoid widening the already substantial 
power-gap between infrastructure owners and users however...


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