Dizzying but invisible depth

Dizzying but invisible depth

Here is an inspirational Google+ post from the Google employee Jean-Baptiste Queru, on the subject of technological complexity.  It goes all the way from “What happens when you go to www.google.com?“, through the layers, through communication gap between technical and non-technical people, to the point of why people talked more about Steve Job’s death rather than Dennis Ritchie’s passing, even though the impact of the last one on the technology in general is much bigger.  He even touches on the problem with the patent system a bit.

Today’s computers are so complex that they can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. In turn the computers used for the design and manufacture are so complex that they themselves can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. You’d have to go through many such loops to get back to a level that could possibly be re-built from scratch.

Once you start to understand how our modern devices work and how they’re created, it’s impossible to not be dizzy about the depth of everything that’s involved, and to not be in awe about the fact that they work at all, when Murphy’s law says that they simply shouldn’t possibly work.

For non-technologists, this is all a black box. That is a great success of technology: all those layers of complexity are entirely hidden and people can use them without even knowing that they exist at all. That is the reason why many people can find computers so frustrating to use: there are so many things that can possibly go wrong that some of them inevitably will, but the complexity goes so deep that it’s impossible for most users to be able to do anything about any error.

That is also why it’s so hard for technologists and non-technologists to communicate together: technologists know too much about too many layers and non-technologists know too little about too few layers to be able to establish effective direct communication. The gap is so large that it’s not even possible any more to have a single person be an intermediate between those two groups

A must read.

RIP Steve Jobs

It doesn’t matter if you know, like or use any of the Apple products. If you are reading this, your life has been influenced by Steve Jobs.  The computer mouse that you are holding in your hand now, the computer, table, or a mobile device which you use to read this, the browser window, the fonts, the buttons, and other elements of the user interface – these are just a few things that are different today because of Steve’s work.  His contribution was huge.

I’m not going to idolize him – each and every human being has his ups and downs.  We all make mistakes and we all screw up.  But the important thing, I guess, is whether each and every one of us makes this world any better.  Steve Jobs has improved this world a lot.  And he inspired many others to do the same.  For that, I am grateful to him.  For that I respect him a lot.

Thank you, Steve.  Rest in peace.

Jobs vs. Schmidt = product vs. service

Gizmodo is running a very speculative – and yes, there are speculations, – post about a meeting between Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt.  It took place in a public place, and someone noticed it and made a couple of pictures and now everyone and their brother is running around trying to figure out what these two were talking about.  Things went as far as even consulting a body language expert.

Firstly, my reaction to this is: “C’mon!  Leave them alone already!“.  Who cares?  But it seems too many people do.  So there kicks in my second reaction – since we don’t really know what it was all about, let’s speculate and blow this out of all proportions.  After looking at the pictures, reading through the comments, and through the body language expert’s analysis, here is my view of what is captured on those pictures.

This is, quite obviously, a historical moment, where two schools of thought are standing against each other.  Steve Jobs represents the old school which stands for closed things and for products, as in things that you can touch, feel, and break.  Eric Schmidt represents the new school of thought, which is characterised by openness and the idea of a service.  Two great men with two great companies behind them meet at the neutral point.  And while Eric seems to be more uncomfortable, as body language expert suggests, the important bit here is that they are at the same table on the same terms.  The clash of the titans, so to speak.  The outcome is obvious for some of us though.  Go, Eric, go!

P.S.: Before you start throwing lava balls at me, I do mean this as a joke, and yes, I am drunk.  It’s Friday night after all.

P.P.S.: There is some truth to every joke.

Pirates of Silicon Valley

Pirates of Silicon ValleyThere aren’t that many films about the world of information technologies, so the title of “Pirates of Silicon Valley” caught my attention.

Directed by: Martyn Burke
Genres: Drama
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Noah Wyle, Joey Slotnick, John Di Maggio, Josh Hopkins, Gema Zamprogna, Bodhi Elfman, Allan Royal, J.G. Hertzler, Wayne Pére, Sheila Shaw, Gailard Sartain, Allan Kolman, Richard Waltzer, Harris Mann
IMDB raintg: 6.7
My rating: 7.0 *******

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