I want to take some time to write on software.
- Written much later, it has a less naive perspective.
Software represents one piece of the technology that is an evolutionary step in our species. We used to sit around waiting for abilities to evolve, then we picked up tools. We used to sit around inventing stuff, now we write software.
When I say "we" write software, I mean the "royal we": You. ;)
I'm going to try to describe the vastness of what I'm brushing upon in my journeys.
First, entire languages for programming are coming to light which aren't merely a different dialect of an earlier language but are genuine improvements. They are genuine improvements right down to the social interaction of their userbase. They are improvements on the mindset of their programmers. They don't lower the bar for good programming.. but they broaden it in curious ways.
It's this culture stuff that's the interesting thing. Because it's culture which drives our species. It's never been about the tools, the inventions or the grand dissertations. Our species' truest strength has always been about the self-motivation of it's smallest parts.
I look at the Ruby community and it's beginning to impact.. there really is an underlying culture associated with the language. It's hard to express.
Second, I like to poke around with some interest in the various software projects I see. I've been poking around some more, over the last couple of days. When I bumped into yet another Linux distribution, Heretix.. I was of course intrigued. I was intrigued because it came to existence because of reasons of philosophy and not ego.
A lot of people are under the impression that developers are driven by ego or reward structures. A lot of the heavy thinkers in our world (think psychology) still don't grasp these sorts of people. Motivation has been a topic of study for many centuries now, and I doubt the issue will be solved by someone studying it from the outside.
Heretix likes Ruby, and so they develop with it for a complete rewrite of their initialization (startup) scripts, their package management and any other task they can come up with. They have tangible reasons for this vast duplication of effort. They're not doing it because of some "not invented here" philosophy that they so desire to see Ruby in use, they're doing it for honest beliefs in future maintainability, customizability and the like. They're extending the philosophies they found with Ruby the language into their efforts there.
I say they're not suffering from "not invented here" because their other tools are not Ruby, even in places where they could be. They're still using the right tool for the job.. the right tool for each and every job, judged individually.
The preference for quality then evolves into "nothing is good enough, we need to do it ourselves", which spurs the creation of things like DRUSS as a p2p distribution mechanism [ 1 ] 2020-12-29 - I can't remember what this is/was. . When people talk about having an "itch" they need to solve, it's often motivated by a higher understanding that there truly is no solution in existence for them. An outsider can see a lot of duplication of effort only because they are blind to underlying philosophies behind every project and within every author individually.
Heretix noticed GoboLinux, and although it's definitely not a new idea, they too have shaped their in-house package management to do place applications each within their own folder, and they manage the mass of symlink with intelligent scripting.
But this is just one project. I poke my head into little corners and I see people with interest in revisiting problems which are "already solved" but make them itch for reasons of philosophy.
But what's interesting to note is that this massive amount of duplication of effort is completely free labour. These developers aren't wasting any time at all. They're not even wasting their own time. The itch which I speak of is an escalation of not just motivation but also of ability. The development driven by this inner strength is above and beyond normalcy.
The raw creative genius available in the itchy state grants a kind of focus, clarity and excellence not found with someone who is merely driven by ego or needs (e.g. money).
This state is something which is only very carefully cultivated and maintained in a workplace. Most places of employment are simply not ripe for this sort of excellence. Instead, they focus on quality tools and procedures. What's interesting is that these days.. all this free labour is what's making those tools.
- Your project management tool.
- Your task management tool.
- Your email client.
- Your email server.
- Your web/network server's software.
- Your web/network server's operating system.
Your web/network server's communication protocols (e.g. what underlies the internet).
A person can easily have every single piece of software they ever use come from a completely free source and be of better quality than what can be paid for.
If that's not true now, it will be. Open source has begun to eat itself.. churning through its own projects. Even if one project does a great job it'll be forked or rewritten into another project. Hacks and extensions and plugins and interfaces and all sorts of things are now being generated at an astonishing rate.
And nobody is there to hold your hand. It's all just out there in little pockets of mindshare. But here's the thing.. it's starting to coalesce.
Stepping into this realm, one can realize that not only is there an abundance of software outstripping all imagination but that it is organizing. There are communications channels helping pass interested people from their itchy state to their dream mindshare. There's no structure for this.. it's merely a system of open referrals. In fact, this need for socialization and organization appears to be one of the kinds of itches people can have.
This is what represents the evolution of the species.. the cultivation of individual strengths and desires, as openly supported by communities. For free.
I will note that I open with "open source" but end up using "free". I don't very strongly distinguish the two terms, although they are different, but open source has a greater mindshare with those in the know.. and yet free sells an underlying ideal to the consumer more identifiably.
See The Open Source Cemetery. Written much later, it has a less naive perspective.
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