Thursday, October 16, 2014

THE FOLLY OF FIXING COMPLEX SYSTEMS


There are really two issues here that the author of this article would hope to keep obscure:

1. Complex systems eventually become impossible to fix in any effort effective way.
2. Accepting that statement #1 does not automatically require giving up on addressing issues that prompted the need for a 
    particular fix in the first place.

The first point is something that folks in the IT world know only too well. Any complex piece of software can be upgraded, and/or corrected, for a few years at the most before the layers of change, on top of what was already there, begin to result in ever greater unintended problems. And the effort it takes to fix those only serves to further frustrate things on both sides of the equation. At some point, even though management goes into great fits of apoplexy at the mere mention of it, you must restate the requirements, and then redesign how to achieve them.

This is especially true for operating systems as they must not only ride heard on ever changing hardware technology, they must also be responsive to new ways to make using that tech in ways that balance efficiency with ease of use, as well as the more nebulous area of experience atmosphereics; that flash and bang and sex appeal that makes anything more sales worthy.
None of this is easy to say the least, even if the human element weren't part of the interface equation.

The view of things is applicable here precisely because Capitalism is an economic operating system. One that was originally developed with a mind set forged from technologies such as the printing press, and repeatable type characters. Now that technology has moved to the electrification of information we are moved into a different kind of mind set. Not only a different way of being able to do things, but a different way of conceiving things. Capitalism was changed a great deal even before this had full effect, and a great deal after. The overall result is something considerably worse than simply making things more complicated (though it certainly did that). This is more like irradiating genetic material and then trying to deal with the mutations.

In any case, though, Capitalism did have deleterious social consequences. Along with other things it is a system that abhors costs, craves profits, and loves scarcity. As such, it becomes quite easy for it to cut corners, shift responsibilities, and hoard. Tendencies that are most usually specific to individual self interests. The need to curb these tendencies all but demanded that there be strict rules to follow, and the bureaucracy to enforce those rules. That this system of counter weights would have costs and problems of their own should surprise no one. Acknowledging that they might have become too costly now, however, in now way negates why they were needed in the first place.

What ought to be obvious here is that the better question to be asked is whether the operating system itself is in need of a complete rethink. And if you are objective in that assessment at all you cannot have any other conclusion at all other than to say yes. It is obsolete, and glaringly so. It absolutely must be replaced. No stupidly obscuring article such as this is going to change that.

The Daily Beast Article: