Monday, January 31, 2005

Q: What’s the latest lesson that you have learned about technology?

A: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Here is a lesson that I learned about technology while learning all the stuff that I had to do in order to become one with The Blog: After a while it’s just not that different.

For a long time I was all mystified about RSS. Then as I learned about it I came to realize RSS Aggregators are a morph of email and push technology, which has been around for a while. In case you don’t remember, “pushing” was about pushing data out to users on the web instead of having to wait around for someone to get to your site. I mean jeepers, I remember having to struggle with “pushing” being the next killer thing way back when I worked for Gateway in 1995. Funny that it took about 10 years for it to become a useful big deal.

No doubt for me, Object Oriented Programming and Jimi Hendrix’s use of the Stratocaster changed in the way that I approached technology. But, sitting here slinging code day in and day out, in the final analysis, be it Java, C++, Pascal, COLBOL, TCL, what have you, it’s still a matter of code organization, value inspection and writing conditional statements, with or without the punch cards. And, there are still six strings on a guitar, although most electric bass players feel inadequate these days without at least five.

For the most part TV still seems to be more mindless than not and cars still have four wheels, using gasoline to go in one of two directions. People still die, albeit a little later in years than was the previous norm. Oh yeah, you could say that technology has really made a big difference in the world of finance. In the 19th century you had banks and brokerage houses, all of which sorta depended mostly on really rich people, Uncle Sam and The Queen. Today you have companies that sell "financial services". If it weren’t for cheap hardware, monster software and inexpensive terabyte capacity storage, how would it be possible for you to gamble with your 401k on line, use your debit card at MacDonald's and for CitiBank to extend all that credit to just about anybody with a signature? (Rates may vary according to credit worthiness.)

What about all the breakthroughs in biotech? I mean what would ABC do for a buck if they couldn’t advertise breast augmentations and liposuction on Extreme Makeover and Cialis on World News Tonight for all of us that are going fat, flat and limp in our old age? They might have to go back to advertising cigarettes and beer. ("LS/MFT, Luck Strike means fine tobacco".... Hey wait a minute, they still do advertize beer-- big, buxom, blonde, comely beer.)

And yet, with all my Luddite like yapping do not think for a moment that I am not unaware that at the age of 50 I have all the teeth that I was born with thanks to fluoride and most children do not die in childbirth.

Now, if only we could focus…..maybe on a super high speed, transcontinental rail system powered by solar-magnetic technology in which the price of a ticket to anywhere costs about the same as a copy of WinZip. What’s stopping us, I wonder.

BTW: Rory stopped by here and gave me a plug. I miss him so much that I am going to become Pope.


Blogger Rob Miles said...

Very strange. I was thinking about the same thing. Only in my case the issue was prompted by a student asking "Will we need programmers in 20 years?". When I sat down and thought about it, I decided that the fundamental things that my code does at the lowest level have not changed in my 30 years or so in the business.

Of course I can draw pictures now, and I can put things in objects, but the things my programs do are just the same. I'm not sure that this will be the case in 20 years time, but I'm convinced that there will be a need for someone to bend the machines to our needs one way or another.

But my tip for guaranteed future employment for the long haul is still plumber or undertaker.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Bob Reselman said...

...unless we create pipes, toilets, sinks, and water heaters that have the mechanisms to fix themselves when broken and human being that can gracefully wither away upon demise.


12:35 PM  
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