Can rapid development become ultra-rapid development?

I have this side theory that increased speeds of development are parts of what defines a new era in technology (you can read more about my theory on eras of technology in “What Did You Change Your Mind About in 2007?“).

There were days, when to program a computer you actually had to build it first.  That was pretty slow, I guess.  Gates, bulbs, and semi-conductors do sound exotic, but something tells me it’s not as much fun as doing software.  I maybe wrong, but that’s what I think.  Firmware, assembler, and even C programming – these all I am only vaguely familiar with.  I joined technology full time when application development was on the rise (think: Visual Basic and Delphi).  Mostly that was commercial application development too.

A tiny bit later, Open Source era was kicking in.  One of the things that amazed many people at the time was how fast software development was happening.  People who haven’t even ever met in person were writing thousands upon thousands of lines of code, communicating over the Internet.  Their code was beautiful. It was fast.  And sometimes even documented.  And anyone could get it, use it, read it, and modify it.  That was really exciting.

The web came and stayed.  Did it bring increased speeds of development? It sure did.  Teams got smaller, often comprising of just two people – one developer and one designer – or even less.  Web sites were emerging every single day, not week or month.  And the whole development seemed so much simpler – all applications are client-server from now on, every computer has the client part already, strong preference of interpreted languages over compiled ones, etc.

Web development has its share of issues, but it makes development of complete applications in matters of days.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this article for example – “Building Web Apps Really Fast: Why Developers are Drawn to Weekend Code-a-thons

What is it about a weekend that makes you want to create a web application from start to finish? Most people would probably think it insane to try cramming design, development, testing, and deployment of a web app into a single weekend, but a growing number of events are encouraging people to do just that.

Coming back to my side theory of increased development speeds in each era of technology, I wonder how that will stand for mobile computing.  It seems doubtful that development can get any faster than a couple of days.  So, maybe I am missing something in my theory, or maybe I haven’t defined it properly.

One suspicion that I have is about the absolute time measurement that I use now vs. relative time to deployment scale that could have been used instead.  Consider a couple of days for development of the web site today.  It can be done and it has been done.  But the web site has a rather limited scale (a maximum of a few million users) compared to a mobile devices market (a few billion users).  So, maybe the development of applications for mobile devices won’t become any faster.  Developers will still need a couple of days, or maybe even more.  But.  When they are done, they have the potential to hit a few billion users, not a few million.  Like this, it might work, and the theory might still stand true.

What do you think?

Legal and educational systems are lagging behind technology

I’ve mentioned this many times before and, I guess, I’ll need to mention this ever more – the technological progress of the recent years (the digital world, yes) has left many systems of our society behind.  Educational and legal are the most noticeable.   Here are a few words in the insightful and funny video (originally from the – a place of many more insightful videos).  Here is a quote from a recent Boing Boing post showing the state of the legal system:

… pictures of Ford cars cannot be printed. Not just Ford logos, not just Mustang logos, the car -as a whole- is a Ford trademark and its image can’t be reproduced without permission.

The future is expensive. Very expensive.

Again, news from Slashdot:

“The City Car, a design project under way at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is envisioned as a two-seater electric vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries. It would weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds and could collapse, then stack like a shopping cart with six to eight fitting into a typical parking space. It isn’t just a car, but is designed as a system of shared cars with kiosks at locations around a city or small community.”

Here is one of the ways I see it:

  • most families won’t be able to afford children (“two-seater electric vehicle”)
  • most families won’t be able to afford petrol powered cars (“powered by lithium-ion batterries”)
  • most families won’t be able to afford their own cars (“shared cars”)
  • most families won’t be able to afford parking spaces (“six to eight fitting into a typical parking space”)

I’m glad that science in general and MIT in particular are here to help us survive in the future.

P.S.: by the way, most families won’t be able to afford university education either, so MIT is giving out for free already – MIT OpenCourseWare.

P.P.S.: yes, I’m just kidding.  The stuff linked to from above is cool.

Video tapes are gone. Long live DVDs.

I have given away our VCR about two years ago. It was malfunctioning and wasn’t fun to watch anymore. But the legacy remained in our house in the form of about twenty video tapes. Those were all excellent movies that either I bought myself or was presented with by my close friends. “Snatch.”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Dogma” – films like these are jewels in anyone’s collection. I had no use for them though as I didn’t have any means of watching them.

Slowly, one by one, I got all these movies on DVDs and my collection was back to useful state. And those tapes were still laying around needless.

Today I gave them all away. I was going to do it sooner or later. I just couldn’t find anyone who I knew would have a VCR and would appreciate the films. Some of my friends have long switched to DVDs and DivX. Others have completely different movie tastes than I do. Yet another others already had their own collection that included either some or all of these films.

Dimitry and Lana passed by our place today after the trip to mountains. They confirmed that they didn’t have these movies, or if they had any they would be dubbed in Russian, which is not a good thing. Especially for the family that speaks English in its entirety. Their movie tastes are very close to mine. And so I was glad to present them with all my tapes.

I’ve emtpied the whole shelf that can now be used for storage of a new movie media – DVD.