@jackyalciné

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What’s There to Build (Anymore)?

A bit of a rant about what’s worth building anymore.

:book: thoughts :bookmark: education, growth, product development, ideation, road block :clock7: :clock3: about 6 minutes

I’ve recently got a copy of this book called Hackers1 and so far, it’s a very interesting read for people like me (programmers who came after the Last Hacker). I haven’t read more than ten pages when I came upon the realization that there isn’t that much anymore to build. Yes, there’s a (partly disgusting) craze to build “the next Facebook” or the “Twitter for babies” but that isn’t something that requires thought. Like legitimate turmoil, brain busting levels of work. Sure, there’s developers writing code, designers modelling and designing, sales selling, but who benefits? If you’re not a direct beneficiary, or rather, the people benefits from your work way more than you do, that’s progress in my book. Do we really have any of that kind of creativity anymore in the computer science world? I might be speaking very ignorantly since again, I haven’t finished the book yet nor am I a super-duper “rockstar”, but the point’s made.

I do want to help with peoples’ ambitions, but 70% of the time I have absolutely no idea what one might be referring to and I feel bad for that.

Education

This is also an observation that I’m noting about technical literacy amongst peers. I get scared when people ask if I have Google on my CPU. We’re decently far along this route that we shouldn’t have people asking pseudo-questions like that. It sucks because I do want to help, but 70% of the time I have absolutely no idea what one might be referring to and I feel bad for that. In the US, I remember hearing on the news that some high schools are implementing computer literary as part of the curriculum. Awesome, but what exactly are these people going to be teaching? Will they be taught to be slaves to a particular product churned out by one company or would they be informed on the aspects of a certain application and what pros and cons would be worth investigating? Would security in computer use not only entail installing anti-virus software but also following practices like perhaps cryptographically securing content whose integrity they’d want to ensure to its recipients? How about application installation practices and permissions2? Things like this could be put into a handbook or short workshop similar to how health is taught for half a year in New York City public high schools.

Would they be telling students that Microsoft Word is the only known word processing solution there is? Or that the only computer known to man is a Mac?

I would want fair education on topics here pertaining to computer usage and common application use but one could counteract with the lack of creationism being taught in public schools. Although the answer to that statement is simple3, it could be said for technology when it comes to spreading doctrines on the kind of computer and software one would use. The one benefit out of this is mainly smarter consumers. Technology is shit today when it comes to upgrading hardware and software largely in part due to the mass not being properly educated on what they keep in their pocket and bags every day. This practice is the same as grocery shopping and car shopping; it’d make sense to learn about the thing you plan to buy if you hold it to high esteem or value.

The Web

Another thing that’s starting to happen more and more is the lack of having applications work properly offline. It’s as if the aspect of not having Internet is a daunting and almost baffling aspect of life. Personally, I thought so a while ago. But these last few months, I haven’t had a stable Internet connection so the ability to do what I’d like to do without a network connection is one I’d love to keep. It’s one reason I moved this from Wordpress4 to a static weblog. Google, however, makes money on the Web itself and its push for Web applications for everything really has consumed consumer computing (i.e: word processing, e-mail checking, search). There was a point in time when Google had a desktop search utility5 for Windows that generated an index of files on your computer and mixed Google search results with your queries. Talk about hits.

This is partly inevitable and as much as it seems that I don’t like it; I’d adopt the trend. It’d be easier once Internet access is freely available. I think I’d rather pay for services I’d use on the Internet instead of paying for the Internet itself. That seems to be the future trend with the lack of Internet Neutrality and might be the only positive aspect of it, but I digress.

The Future

Now, looking forward, what can we expect? It’s hard to say. Consumer technology is becoming more and more part of the legislative process. This is meant to prevent one company from controlling too much of a particular “innovation” or industry but more harm is inevitable when big players fray away from standards and build their own form of proprietary bullshit. The only hopeful thing I see happening is the revitalization or maybe just the shock that hardware is getting nowadays. Hardware tinkers tend to start off using things like Adafruit’s boards and learn how to solder but to properly build something with granular control, the 3D printing wave would come into play. Once 3D printing is as cheap as laptops get (or even cheaper), the act of designing a PCB in a computer and printing it would be one to allow for anyone to build their own tech. Imagine: you’re in a store and you just want the best laptop you can get your hands on. Synthesizing the parts necessary like the motherboard and other components is a matter of pushing buttons in a display glass. Companies could use their specifications and perhaps make implementations that could be sold for individual use and hackers could work and build a freely open piece of hardware. A day like that is when I feel technology would be as ubiquitous as other freedoms we have today. Until then, I’d be coding away.

  1. “Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution” by Steven Levy, 2010, O’Reilly Media. 

  2. This would probably covering being more sharp about what permissions new applications would want to have on your devices. Mobile devices have a whole permission architecture that makes it easier to see what an application can be possibly do but on desktop machines, it’s a bit tricky. 

  3. The state should have no interest in religion and therefore isn’t obligated or should ever feel compelled to teach religious doctrines as a equivalent to other secular fields. 

  4. Betcha didn’t know that! It was about 3 years ago since I’ve made the transition. 

  5. I think it’s discontinued; but you probably could find an executable somewhere.