Monday, August 18, 2008

on being an engineer motie

There's this book by Niven and Pournelle called The Mote in God's Eye, right? It's got these weird little aliens in it called Moties that have 3 arms, a population problem, and a rigid caste system determined by genetics. The moties with brown fur are the Engineers, and basically aren't too creative but can work wonders with materials on hand to build something new.

Technology for the Moties, then, is not a static deal. When something ceases to be useful, it's cannabilized for parts and used to assembling something that will be useful. There's not much aesthetic or art to what the Engineers create.. it's truly function over form. In short: Brown Moties always, always leave the cables dangling out and never, ever put the lid back on.

Being a system developer type, I'm kind of inclined towards the Brown Motie way of building things. The important things are how elegant the ORM scheme is to use, whether or not the data structures make sense, and what functionality your API gives you with the least amount of effort (and distraction) possible. Why are we quibbling about where the submit button goes or what the background color for the input box is? How on earth is getting an iTunes icon setup a bigger, more noteworthy accomplishment than integrating the authentication and authorization systems between a CMS and forum software? WTF do you mean by "version 2.0"... is this specification not already feature complete for the task at hand?

I swear, you mundanes make no sense to me.

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