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May 05, 2003


Skyscrapers are old tech and perhaps not as logical as they would seem. They are a fetish which may very well be out of style now. But that doesn't change the fact that they are marvels of brainwork and that thousands of man years have gone into their design and construction.

Fifteen years ago, long before the invention of the Pentium II, I used to wonder about whether or not people would long note or remember what programmers do. There doesn't seem to be much question these days that they will. Nevertheless, I think there is much to be learned from the lesson of the Xanadu Project. On the scale of deadness, a doornail being 5, Xanadu certainly rates a 4. But I can recall, in the days before Jaron Lanier, when Ted Nelson was considered a visionary among mortals.

When we are dead and buried, we can only hope that anthropologists bother with our scribblings in silicon. Software creations embody such beauty, effort and sophistication. They are no less than the design of our age, and yet the incredible significance of one program in one decade means nothing in the next, like so many once great, now abandoned office buildings.

Posted by mbowen at May 5, 2003 10:31 PM

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