I came across this great quote from Alan Kay’s today, from ‘The Early History of Smalltalk‘, that strongly resonated with me:
A twentieth century problem is that technology has become too “easy”. When it was hard to do anything whether good or bad, enough time was taken so that the result was usually good. Now we can make things almost trivially, especially in software, but most of the designs are trivial as well. This is inverse vandalism: the making of things because you can. Couple this to even less sophisticated buyers and you have generated an exploitation marketplace similar to that set up for teenagers. A counter to this is to generate enormous disatisfaction with one’s designs using the entire history of human art as a standard and goal. Then the trick is to decouple the disatisfaction from self worth–otherwise it is either too depressing or one stops too soon with trivial results.
The crazy thing is that Alan Kay wrote this in 1993. Fast forward 20 years to today, and this quote has never been more true. It has never been easier to build software, yet it is difficult to make something of real value. The trick still seems to have the ability to decouple one’s dissatisfaction of their current work with their self worth. And then, of course, to keep working and honing one’s craft.
P.S. This is post number #88 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!
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