How it all goes horribly wrong


The “Stack”

I see kids in uni taking notes using Google Drive, or Docs or whatever they call it. They use Google Chrome on their Windows laptop. Google Drive runs using a ton of JavaScript, and their servers run on all sorts of other stuff. Including whatever they need to do magic AI analysis of everything you write so they can rent out their model of your mind for targeted advertising.

This is a really small slice of all the stuff that goes into the software “stack” involved in typing stuff into Google Drive.

Google’s monolithic repository is about 85000 gigabytes of code. They employ 25000 engineers to work on and maintain it. They use 12.4 terawatt-hours of electricity pr year, which is more than most of the world’s countries use in a year.

And from all of this, you get the amazing ability to…

Write notes. Slowly.

In order to write some notes, that you won’t even open again after having written, you utilize all that. And you think you’re making things simpler by “Just using Google Drive”. Because the interface you see is white, and has rounded buttons, you think it’s simple. When in-fact, you are making things about as complicated as they could possibly be. And what you get out of it is still laggier than editing a text file in the 1980s.

Mo’ lines, mo’ problems

Throughout all this, the bugs will creep in.
More lines, more bugs.
More lines, more complexity.

Already, people have died in plane crashes caused by software bugs.

“Oh, but the kids nowadays are so good with technology, and they grow up with it, they’ll end up working on it, and fixing it”

No, the kids nowadays are good at using iPads, Snapchat and TikTok. If they ever learn to code, they learn to code in some bullshit language like python, C#, or very modern C++ with .NET, or even worse, whatever Duplo shit Unreal Engine comes with now. They will make their websites using Squarespace. And they’ll write their notes on Google Drive. And they will have absolutely no idea how any of it works. All while having convinced themselves that they’re doing it the right way, the simple way.

And then, when all the gray beards that created, maintained and understood all the underlying structures die off, and their wisdom is lost, we’re fucked.

We’re royally fucked.

You already struggle to stay on top of your projects when they cross 2000 lines of code. Even the professionals at Microsoft are absolutely fucking incompetent at writing software. And every day, we add more code. More layers. More “solutions”, to problems created by complexity. Oh, your server software is buggy and crashes all the time, because nobody knows how it works, or how to fix it? Here’s the solution: A program called Docker, that lets you run every program in a viritual machine, and just automatically reboot the whole thing when it crashes. We are 20 billion band-aid “solution” lines of code deep into this problem, and it shows no sign of stopping.

Not to mention that massive amounts of this code does stuff we don’t even want. Advertising, cookie popups, tracking, fingerprinting, update nags, DRM, adware, spyware, malware, content ID, social media post priority.
And so we develop “solutions” to those problems. Ad-blockers, cookie blockers, tracking and fingerprinting resistant browsers, pirate sites, browser extensions that give back control and customization on social media sites.

Too much code? Too much bad code? Solution: More code!

Is there an actual solution?

I have no clue. Refuse to write and use shit software, I guess.