Breaking Smart Notes # 4

Name of Essay: Purist Versus Pragmatists

There are two approaches to technology:

Purist

  • Not agile. 
  • Precious about the way things should be.
  •  Careful about keeping technology pure.
  • Mixing and matching is not welcome.
  • Start complex.

Pragmatist  

  • Agile. 
  • Not precious about the way things should be.
  • Leave out what doesn't work.
  • Mixing and matching is welcome.
  • Start simple.
  • creative

In the late 90s there were passionate debates about browsers and the future of the internet. 

  • There were purists that didn't like the messy way in which the browser was developing. 
  • Pragmatists saw the browser evolving as it should: embodying many contending ideas.
    • The vision of pragmatists eventually won when it came to the future of the internet. 

The pragmatic approach to technology is the dominant way that software is used.

This pragmatic, agile approach to building things has spread to things other than the internet: engineering, business, politics.  

Purist building was necessary back then—because if you failed the first time, you might not get another chance—but not anymore. 

  • Trial and error was too risky and slow, so productivity was favored over creativity.

With the help of smaller and cheaper computers, hands-on hacking became possible. 

  • programers turned from an interchangeable member of a large team to a uniquely creative hacker who pursued personal goals.   

A group of researchers called the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) set out to lay out what would become the "government" of the internet. 

  • Their pragmatist beliefs is embodied in this quote: "We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code."

In the 80's Japan set out on a purist, government-led approach to software. They hit a dead end, while the pragmatic U.S. created the modern internet. 

The pragmatic approach is the best approach in every field now that everything is eaten by software.

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Hello, I'm Erick. I like to write about philosophy, self-development, running, unschooling, podcasts, software tools and digital marketing.