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Technology is advancing, but is it really advancing as fast as it seems?

I might come across as a bit of a Luddite here, but I think that a lot of the emerging software and hardware is ephemeral. And maybe that's the way consumer electronics has to be. In the pre-dawn of the internet, software was developed for aerospace, medicine and government. It had to be robust, provable and enduring.

The landscape has changed completely. Today, developers have embraced the ephemeral nature of apps, iPads and cell phones. They're not worried about building enduring artifacts and code that will be solid and transparent for a generation.

Perhaps hindsight is always myopic. There are plenty of criticisms that judge the UNIX philosophy as being hackish; a virus that spread the "Worse is Better" philosophy of the the open source movement in general. But today, the tools have been honed, pruned and documented so well that it all works together as an organic whole. An organic whole that can be extended or repurposed in ever new ways.

It is this sense of growth that seems lacking in the software and hardware landscape of today. Code and hardware now go into the landfill in a few years by default. Without the organic usefulness of command-line programs, standalone apps have no value beyond a very short life-cycle.

In a way, I think it's what had to happen. For most consumers, the only interface that will get used is the one that is blatantly obvious. They feel smart when the computer doesn't make them feel stupid. And so user interface must appeal to the lowest common denominator. I just feel a tiny shiver of remorse when I see the amount of energy poured into technology that will be junked and forgotten in months or years.

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