The idea: A heatsink-maze metaphor for our difficulty with software creation.
|Adventure's "maze of twisty little passages, all alike" (et.al.) has long been a metaphor for the software development process. Now, vast societal resources are flowing into this software development maze. But disproportunately little is emerging. Most of this vast effort is being dissipated. Thus a maze-heatsink, glowing brightly (i.e. dissipating a lot of energy as heat).|
Once upon a time, the maze was new and necessary. Machines were small, and packed tightly with hand-crafted code. Now, I suggest, the maze is largely historical artifact. If one were loaned a productive development environment from a few years in the future, one might easily create a productive environment to run on current machines. But with only our current maze-crippled tools, it is far more difficult. We face a bootstrap problem.
Some related email excerpts
From mcharity Fri Jun 19 14:38:13 -0400 1998 Subject: State of the art From the preface of John Scott Russell's (engineer and naval architect) massive "The Modern System of Naval Architecture", 1865 (135 years ago)... We the passing generation have had to grope our way out of the dark slowly and painfully, with trial and error. But what has to be pardoned to us can no longer be pardoned to our successors, to whom we bequeath the costly knowledge and painful experiences that have cost us so dear, but which we have gladly earned, and now painstakingly contribute for their instruction, and the advancement of their future... Heartening to think we may write this ourselves, about computer and software engineering, before too many more years have passed. Mitchell Charity (John Scott Russell, from the preface of "The Modern System of Naval Architecture", 1865. Quoted in Henry Petroski's "John Scott Russell", Engineering column of American Scientist, v86/1998Jan-Feb, p21) Russell worked on, among other things, the first Atlantic cable, and steam-only crossing.
Notes: "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike." "You are in a little maze of twisty passages, all different." From ADVENT Doables: blech. redraft. do concept graph quote variants - all a'light , glowing bright , burning bright . mention civilization as bootstrap problem visual - maze as heatsink elaborate on maze as se metaphor on bootstrap breakdown, inc possible patterns the `things looking up' stories History: 1998.Oct.03 Added old related email. 1998.Sep.22 Created. 1998.Sep.02 Initial notes, from idea a week or four before.