December 3, 2012

Dumb software

There is a beauty to dumb software. These things like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Things like Unix, C and SQL. Plain text files, email, and GIFs. They’re fun to work with. They always work. There’s no caveats. I just love them so damn much.

But wait until you see the light! Software today is intelligent! Asynchronous front ends generated from esoteric scripting languages running on clusters of distributed virtual machines around the globe! Death to repetition! It’s more productive! It’s scalable! It’s fault tolerant!

I followed the light and it only ended in darkness.

Intelligent systems have dark corners. Why didn’t it work this time? It’s hard to see everything. I’m not sure what it’s doing. This is impossible! Is there even a bug, or have I simply lost my mind?

The problem with ARC is it's hard to verify the difference between you losing your mind and an ARC bug.

— Josh Abernathy (@joshaber) December 1, 2012

Dumb systems are obvious. It’s obviously doing something dumb — too much work, too inflexible. But the work is predictable. It’s obviously doing too much work. I can see everything.

Dumb software can do great things. It put humankind on the Moon. It got us to Mars. To me, it feels like the dumber the software, the more it accomplishes.

I want to create great things. And sometimes it just feels right to build a simple little static website with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

If you'd like to keep in touch, I tweet @kneath on Twitter. You're also welcome to send a polite email to I don't always get the chance to respond, but email is always the best way to get in touch.