Don't worry. As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88mph the instant the lightning strikes the tower... everything will be fine. ~ Back to the Future (1985)
One of the great challenges of working in technology is that patterns of thinking change quickly and from time to time, no matter how wired-in you are, you discover that everything you know is wrong. Novelist William Gibson is right: the future has already arrived -- it's just not evenly distributed... When I first learned Ruby on Rails back in 2006, it struck me as a wondrous advance on the Java development I was doing. Java had bulked up as an Enterprise solution so now, 5 years later, it's little surprise that Java End of Life is something Thoughtworks worries about.
In tech we often see the tail end of Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma. In TID, disruptive technologies catch on because whatever they lack in robust features they make up for in agility. With time, though, the PT Boats grow into Battleships, and the cycle starts anew.
There are signs that this is happening now with Internet technology -- our toolsets (like Rails) have grown so fit to the task that they seem a bit ponderous as the task shifts. With enough shift we again conclude that everything we know is wrong and the cycle starts again.
"It's not what you don't know that kills you, it's what you know for sure that ain't true." ~ Mark Twain
Here's what we know about Internet technology today:
- "Computers" are how people interact with the Internet
- Modern apps display web pages and submit information
- Pages are served from servers (of course)
- The client-server Internet model works fine
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, and WRONG. Here's the world we've been living in for a while now:
- Today there are more wireless handsets than there are people on earth
- In 2011, nobody updates a whole page anymore -- Ajax rules
- To paraphrase Bill Joy -- no matter where you are, most of the interesting content is somewhere else (on someone else's handset)
- Pages are easier -- and if we wait maybe those pesky smartphones will just go away...
We're ready for a new programming world, and I've been investigating that new world for a while now. With my next post post I'll write up what I've found. As in the sound clip below, you may not be ready for this yet -- but it'll be here soon "...and your kids are gonna love it!"