D025: Software as ageing spruce – The question
CJ Eller is one of those writers I hope eventually goes back to blogging. His writing is succinct and thoughtful. Often times he makes me wonder about questions I've never thought before.
Exactly one year ago, he wrote a post titled: “Aging Spruce and Software”:
The background color of my site is as close as I can get to the color of the top of my guitar. The German Spruce has changed in color; warmer in comparison to when I first played it in 2017. Time brings out more color in the wood as well as the sound. I had to go in knowing that it'd take a couple years before the guitar's true sound came out. This isn't to say that the guitar initially sounds horrible, it's just that needs time to become dryer and more resonant.
As someone who plays the guitar, I was aware of the existence of expensive guitars with exceptional sound qualities. But one that gets better over time? That really amazed me.
Since CJ Eller is also a software engineer (by “accident”, he says), he went on:
Just give it time. Imagine saying the same about software! As much as I try to compare software to the analog organic (digital gardens, etc.), there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to this quality of emergent properties. Well, maybe such emergent properties in the digital come in the guise of bugs, glitches, errors. Let me rephrase: positive, creative emergent properties. When the wood ages, it affects the look & sound of the guitar for the better. When software ages, what is changed for the better? Am I not seeing it? Are there examples of software doing this?
What kind of software gets better over time?. That's an interesting question.
I don't have the answer, but I do have some thoughts based on my own experience in the software industry; I will share them in future posts, for those who might be interested.