Software Disenchantment

04 Sep 2020

https://tonsky.me/blog/disenchantment/ - I recently read this blog post and it really stirred something inside me. I've been playing with computers since the early 2000s and so I feel like I've seen them evolve over a period of 20 years. Now, if you had told the 12-year-old-hyper-excited-about-computers-me about the state of computers in 2020, I really wouldn't have believed it. Or if I had, I would have been very disappointed.

I disagree with the author's repeated claim of "everything's the same and we are just upgrading hardware to keep the same software running". It's kind of true, but not entirely. I feel like we've made progress, but definitely not keeping in line with the growth in the corresponding resource consumption. A blank, freshly installed Angular app - that does absolutely nothing is around 300 MB when built. Clearly, there's something wrong with that. Android apps just seem to get bloated over time. The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a 16GB of RAM - my laptop doesn't have that! Is that really a thing to be proud of? Why should a handheld device even require such ludcrious amounts of RAM? And before you say it does very complicated operations or runs sophisticated algorithms, there's no way ever that any combination of applications should need to keep 16 gigabytes of data in memory.

I just feel like we've placed so much importance to the "programmer time vs computer time" analogy that we've forgotten what computers earlier were even like. I feel like asking everyone to just stop for a while, think about what we are doing and how this is going to scale/work in the near future. Do we really want to reach that point where blank Angular apps are 1GB large?

With the way the industry is progressing, I doubt we can even turn back now. If so many websites run on NodeJS, is there really a way in the near future that we can just spontaneously shift to a lighter and faster web framework? I wonder what the solution is.

I'm not saying everything is going to crash and burn to the ground - it's just that in my opinion this isn't the ideal state that we could have been in. And it just bugs me a lot that something I love so much isn't perfect, or isn't going to be for a long, long time.