I had to have a dramatic title if I’m going to muse about a dramatically titled piece in The Atlantic!
It’s a long but interesting article if you like discussions on software, or if like me you love the series Breaking Smart.
A few scattered thoughts as I read it:
- I’ve always thought it was dumb and barbaric how coding is done, without any WYSIWYG or visual editors to speak of, and often wondered how long until coding is a useless skill when better platforms for building software in a more tactile way come along (Mario Maker is the highest form of software construction!).
- Reminder of why open source code is so awesome, and many of the problems referenced in the article seem to be solvable without overhauling coding if it more of it was just made open source.
- It made me laugh at how easy it is for humans to overblow and focus on the big scary problems presented by new tech while overlooking the far greater life-saving benefits on the other side of the ledger.
- Condescension and hand-waving about the best programming minds focusing on commercial solutions to “everyday problems” instead of “more important” research made me laugh too. Quality of life improvements come in many forms and ripple in unexpected directions, and who’s to say Uber benefits society less than a new tool for cancer research?
- Several people with great criticisms of status quo a little too eager to try to pick one new Grand Vision instead of just offering many in the market.
- Made me ponder the psychology and emotional health of coders. The intense reactions to proposed changes in the way the work is done seem overboard. I wonder if the fact that many programmers were nerds or outcasts in the education system has created emotional baggage, or the fact that they are now respected and in control makes them very reticent about anything that would reduce the importance of coding. Hackers are the new royalty in society, but it’s a strange combo because most grew up as outcasts and then became the cool ones, so they have an odd insider/outsider combo (Peter Thiel talks about this).
Are we entering a future where code is not the dominant interface between designer and design?