Archive for April, 2011

How I am responsible for the modern internet

Long ago, I worked for Motorola in Urbana, Illinois. Another programmer there, Eric Bina, was the first person to get a color X Terminal. Being a hacker type, he did graphical things on it and would show them off to people.

One day, he dragged me into his office to show me I-don’t-know-what. I do distinctly remember adopting my curmudgeonly persona (even then!) and telling him, “Oh Eric, no one will ever want color on a computer.”

Shortly after that, Eric quit, citing the stupidity of (at least) some of the people at Motorola. I like to think it was my comment that tipped him over the edge, because Eric then went to the University of Illinois’ Center for Supercomputing Applications, where he wrote rather more of the code for Mosaic, the first graphical browser, than (I believe) did the more famous Mark Andreesen. Eric later became one of the founders of Netscape.

Had it not been for me, we’d all still be using Gopher.

A question about some people

Over the past few years, some people who I would have counted as “being Agile” are now counting themselves as members of the Software Craftsmanship movement. I’m interested in the reasons why.

I’m not saying that craft isn’t a part of Agile. I’m not saying that people who identify as Software Craftsmen think that Agile is bad. I’m not saying that they’ve abandoned anything. I’m not pointing and shouting “Look! A fight!”, nor am I trying to start a fight.

I’m saying that some people who had energy for, and put energy into, Agile are now doing it for Software Craftsmanship: they’re on one mailing list instead of another, they go to conferences with one label instead of the other, their company’s marketing material used to use the word “agile” and now uses the word “craftsmanship”.

So: this is a matter of the emotion and self-perception of actual people, not of the definitions of terms.

I’m not interested because I think these people are wrong, or need to be fixed, or anything judgmental like that. I’m interested because knowing why people do things is interesting.

If you feel like you’ve made such a move, why did you do it? Thanks.