I never read James Snell before yesterday, when Stephen pointed him out. Anyway he has just completely nailed the simplicity/complexity/architecture argument. What is it with these incredibly articulate architecture types? And how come the simplicity/situated folks seem to have all the best tunes? Are they devils? The Bosworth Ruby Bray Axis of Devil looks to have a new member state. [Axis of XML? Axis of Simple? Axis of XMHell?]
Schnell. Schnell. Read Snell. James argues thusly:
Let’s try an experiment. Let’s get a group of extremely brilliant structural engineers to design a bridge. Let’s have them design and architect every aspect the bridge, drawing up detailed specifications for not only the bridge itself but the specialized tools that will be used to build the bridge. Then let’s get brilliant engineers from all over the world together to review those buildings specifications, to iterate on them, to hash them out, and then give their collective stamp of approval on them. Then, once that is done, let’s get engineering firms from around the world to build the tools that will be used to build the bridge. In the process, let’s make sure that those firms get together and test their stuff out to make sure the tools are compatible with one another, that they’re interoperable. And once we have it all together… the design of the bridge, the building specifications, the tools, the support of the engineers… lets get millions of individuals who don’t necessarily have advanced engineering degrees go out and try to actually build it with nothing more than a few helpful reference manuals and a glance over the shoulders of other people who look like they know what they’re doing. How do you think this experiment will turn out? Do you think there might be a few flaws in the bridge?
While I am on the subject of articulate geeks there are a couple of folks i have been meaning to point to for a while.
First off, though, what better word to use in describing some blogs than “Toli”… What is a Toli, I hear you cry? What – you don’t know your Ga? Come on people…. keep up, its what the Ga-Adangbe of Ghana speak.
toli: n. 1. A juicy piece of news. 2. The latest word or gossip. 3. The talk of the town, typically a salacious or risque tale of intrigue, corruption or foolishness.
If you want to know more get yourself over to Koranteng’s Toli. This guy is deeply technical but he writes about some great music, and i also have much enjoyed some of his musings on Africa. He is a great source, perhaps unsurprisingly of African Toli (and his mother really knows how to wear a kente). Great neologisms too – Glue layer people… indeed. Here’s an excerpt that will make you want to read more…
I am the son of an African journalist. I grew up in a newsroom and some of my earliest, and fondest, memories are of seeing feet from underneath my mother’s desk at the Daily Graphic in Accra, Ghana. My babysitters were hack reporters. My most cherished amusement came from settling down with a pad of paper and scribbling under a conference room table while editors and others would discuss stories as they worked together to shape the configuration of that day’s main edition.
Editorial judgements were my mainstay, and my introduction to nuance: that fine choreography of which stories to highlight. The horse-trading between the different departments of the paper passed for entertainment in my mind. I made friends while looking over people’s shoulders as they sweated to produce a story on deadline. Similarly I loved running errands to call so-and-so to the meeting to report on his progress (or lack thereof) or to fetch new typewriter ribbons from the storeroom.
Watching my mother peck out a story with her two fingers was the apogee of my day. The clacking of manual typewriters, those huge IBM ones of yore, was my musical soundtrack.
Can it be a coincidence he ended up at Big Blue? clackity clack. I think not. Koranteng is also a little bit nuts, which is appealing. I will have to print out and read his magnum opus Unloved HTML Button and other Tales, which seems to be a crazed African magical realism meets a history of the last 15 years in tech…
Tu crois que le monde est à toi,
C’est ta chose, tu en disposes,
Sans qu’il ne reste rien
His “generic pass at translation”:
You believe the world is yours
That it belongs to you
It’s your thing, it’s at your disposal
Without which [without you?] there’s nothing left
I have a few more folks i have been meaning to call out, but i will save those for later. You can have too much Toli, too much of a good thing.