Monday, December 08, 2003

Look Forward in Ambivalence

Aaron Haspel moves away from literature and culture to ruminate on the future of technology. In his other life he is a software developer and has some interesting insights into the future of programming, development tools, and outsourcing. As someone in the same field, being involved in the development of consumer software, I share much of his concerns, and to a certain degree, his ambivalence.

He writes,"Hardware, by contrast, improves so rapidly that there's a law about it. It is a source of constant reproach to software, which has no laws, only rueful aphorisms: "Adding people to a late software project makes it later," "right, fast, cheap: choose two," and the like."

And, "Certainly if, as we baseball geeks say, past performance is the best indicator of future performance, I wouldn't hold my breath for orders-of-magnitude productivity improvements. On the other hand, bad as software is, enormous sums are poured into it, large segments of the economy depend on it, and the regulators do not even pretend to understand it. This all bodes well for 2020."

There are certainly arguments to be made for why the software industry is in its infancy, and development of new technologies will continue to stimulate new industries and revitalize existing ones. And at the same time, ourtsourcing to inexpensive job markets will require us in the industry to stay ahead of the curve. The excitement and fear that this can combine to create, is about as close to what I imagine sky diving to feel like as I ever plan to get.

Read the whole thing here.

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