Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Death of Software?

Paul Brown had commented on a note from Eric Newcomer on the "death of software":

"The most significant inventions are over. Some would call this the "death of software." But only as we know it. Software will continue. But we are not likely to have any new languages, or see any significant new inventions. Twenty years ago no one knew what a database was, or middleware, or Java. But now I think innovation like that has stopped because IT doesn't need it any more."

Oh me, oh my. I've been there before - when you just run out of steam and everything looks grey; progress halts and the future dims. The good news is that history tells us that this is dead wrong.

Where to begin? Software remains in a pre-natal stage (not even infancy). I still think is hysterical that I type on a keyboard, look at a fixed monitor, and have to tell the computer what I want it to do. I'm amazed that I am so much smarter than my computer - this is just silly. I hate the fact that the state of artificial imagination is at ground zero, that we don't have digital metaphors and that a computer can't reverse engineer strategy. I think it is funny that we continue to use silicon at the computing substrate, that our programs are explicitly programmed and that they are not self-improving.

Maybe I'm just a kid at heart. Maybe I'm too stupid to know the obstacles. Either way, I am thankful. May I continue to be cursed with creationary optimism.

And may I offer an ounce of optimism to those of you who wore black pants and white shirts today. When your desk is scattered with employee status reports, when your walls speak of posters of UML and Java libraries from 5 years ago, it is time for a change. Not a little change, but a big change. Web services, orchestration, intermediaries, blah, blah, blah - these are the incremental improvements decades in the work. Refill your mind with childlike optimism. Imagine. Invent. Destroy. Laugh. Repeat.

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