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Software Innovation is Dead

Or so sez this article. Hooey, I say. Software development has yet to conquer the worlds of robotics, true AI, speech synthesis and recognition, language translation. While software is easier to build these days, it's also more difficult - and until software can create software (at a user's direction), we've got that as another signpost on the long road towards "the end of software innovation." The kids asking "are we there yet?" are just gonna have to hold it for awhile.

Computer science is a new field, and science itself has existed since man asked the first curious question. Innovation in science is far from being dead and while software development may be a bit routine, so is the scientific method. It's the method of discovery. Writing a for loop won't yield life's great secrets, but writing a for loop in a language you just invented may help us conquer the world of artificial intelligence.

The early jumps in any field are bound to be seen as large. Man discovers that the sun is the center of the solar system: big news! Man discovers the temperature of the sun? Not so big in comparison. A bunch of metal and plastic suddenly displays a controllable cursor? Big! The Web? Big. My RSS aggregator? Just built on what came before, but no less important in context than knowing the temperature of the sun.

What is innovative software? Before you discovered it, you did not feel that you were missing out; there was no obvious void. However, after you discover it, its use becomes so second-nature that you wonder how you lived without it.

The author must not get out much.

4 Responses to "Software Innovation is Dead"

  1. That definition about innovative software fits Exposé to a T. I don't know how we lived without Exposé. (Especially when when worked with Command-Tab)

  2. I can see how if you are a junior programmmer that you might feel the way this guy does. If you are just fixing bugs all day and doing rubber stamp work it can certainly get disheartening. Throw in with that the new offshoring trend and you can probably begin to think that you are just a small cog in the wheel. But I just think this is a necessary result of the scale that software projects have taken on these days.

  3. Well, OakGrove has some interesting software for creating business processes. It allows you to create workflow solutions using a simple GUI. It's slick, but not a silver bullet.

  4. I think this article says a lot about the state of Linux development. He should try using/writing Mac OS X software. Cocoa (particularly combined with bindings) really does unshackle you from much of the more monotonous tasks of software development. It lets you focus on the fun stuff.

    Pretty much ever hardware innovation he mentions was pioneered or popularized by Apple. iPhoto made digital cameras far more interesting.

    Somebody send this guy a G5.

    - Scott