On holy wars and a plea for decadence

I don’t want to live in a world of arbitrary change for the sake of change any more than I want to live in a world of arbitrary change for the sake of Microsoft’s shareholders. Change for the better is good. Change away from the worse is good. But change in itself is a nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable thing, makes you late for dinner.

I want to live in a world where each program asymptotically approaches perfection and fits its ecological niche. I want to live in a world where programs have irrational version numbers and get a digit closer to them each release, where bug lists truly do shrink to nothing.

I want to live in a world of decadence.

5 Responses to “On holy wars and a plea for decadence”

  1. Andy Wingo says:

    Well said!

    I would drive the ecological metaphor a bit farther: spurts of evolution, local equilibria, etc. I think that what we’re in for is a bit of a shaking out as a result of changing environment (input devices and GPUs, specifically). It might be not as nice for a while. But maybe we’ll find something better. In the meantime, the old coexists with the new.

    Also, emacs is the ultimate software ecosystem ;-)

  2. Hear, hear!

    On the other hand, is this actually possible? Look at TeX — it is trying to approach perfection without changing, but the world moves forward and people start missing features like Unicode or OpenType fonts.

  3. TeX has solved the problem by staying where it is; then people can write new programs which explicitly are not TeX but use ideas drawn from it. (The examples you give are good ones, but TeX even has no support for queueing certain things and keeps them in fixed-length arrays, in case you’re running in a few kilobytes of memory).

    I don’t think that’s ideal, and when something quite new comes along we should think about it. That’s why Metacity has a compositor, after all. But that’s a tradeoff with the instability issue; decreasing instability is never something to bemoan.

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