April 17, 2008

If it's important, you'll hear about it [maybe]

There's a pleasure in following the slow leak of [mostly wrong] information, but it's one I ought to wean myself from.

From The Edge 2007 questions, Kai Krause, billed as a software and design pioneer, writes:

...if you have very large [software] task at hand, one that you calculate might take two years or three...it has actually become cheaper to wait for a couple of generation changes in the hardware and do the whole thing then - ten times faster. In other words: sit by the beach with umbrella drinks for 15 months and then finish it all at once with some weird machinery and still beat the original team by leaps and bounds.
This came together with some other thoughts. I have an old paperback of Buckminster Fuller essays, my only introduction into his work. The stuff in the book is from the 50s and 60s, and although I understand he was advanced for his time, and a remarkable man, what hit home was however much you think and keep up with things it goes out of date fast, and this must be true in every field where real advances are possible, i.e. in the sciences.

From one angle, keeping up as a layman is like following pop culture - there's always something new, too much to take in, and the best stuff will still be around ten, twenty years later. What's the benefit of working so hard to keep up? The idea is that you could sit on a beach and not read for 15 months, and then get all the facts in a day or so when you moved back to the city.

This links to the idea of not reading newspapers, not keeping up with the times, because if it's really important you'll hear about it.

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