Friday, March 24, 2006
  in the beginning
In the beginning was the Tao. The Tao gave birth to Space and Time. Therefore Space and Time are Yin and Yang of programming.

Programmers that do not comprehend the Tao are always running out of time and space for their programs. Programmers that comprehend the Tao always have enough time and space to accomplish their goals.

How could it be otherwise?
The Tao of Programming

Technology is more about people than most of us care to remember or admit. Sometimes it's easier to focus merely on the technical side of an issue than to thoroughly dissect and discover the true implications of it in society and in people's lives, and to judge its merits using a complete, 360ยบ approach.

Why do we do this? Because we can see no further than the tecnological horizon? In most cases, no. We do it for one (ou more) of three reasons:

1. The field of reasons and implications is too wide. If you start considering the social and political implications of the domain name system, you'd be discussing it for years, instead of improving on DNS software. Sometimes we take the technical issue ourselves, and leave politics to the politicians.

2. We choose to believe in something, in a positive way; and we choose to let belief be stronger than factual reasoning - even if the factual reasoning would be enough to prove our point, we choose not to fully prove it, because it would take too much time and effort. Instead, we provide statistics, case studies, examples, anything that proves our point. We plainly choose to believe.

3. We choose to believe in something, in a negative way; either from past events, from observed examples, from other's experience, from our own moral-ethic-aesthetic rules and inclinations, or by mere adherence to a mass-phenomenon, we choose to believe something is bad, should be avoided, or is plainly wrong. We tend to support this view in any way that is more comfortable for us, be it research papers, market studies or anectodal evidence. We simply choose to reject and avoid, which is another form of belief-system.

If we were trying to draw parallels to existing non-technology-related paradigms, we would find a close match in some religious systems.
A large group of agnostics - the ones that just don't care and go about with their lives -, then on one side the do-believers, on the other side the no-believers. If you look at any technology clique that is around, these days, you find pretty much the same model, done with differing degrees of emphasis.

A separate fourth group comprises the "scholars", those who study and analyze, and try to keep an apparently unbiased standing amidst the different sects. Whether they can or actually do maintain this equidistance is, more often than not, a cause for its own debate.

What interests me is the mechanism through which these informal groups light - and keep lit - the fires that fuel them. I am a long time observer - and participant - of the global IT community, while at the same time a student of compared religion; so maybe the parallels are more obvious to me than to most people.

The comparison is obviously not perfect, as no comparisons ever are. Still the resemblances seem too great to not be looked into, so that the lessons - and the risks - learned in one field can be applied to the other.

What would the community think?

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Juliao Duartenn's thoughts on people and technology

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Location: Portugal
March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 /







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