Monday, April 22, 2013

Pyramids

"Most people who graduate with CS degrees don’t understand the significance of Lisp. Lisp is the most important idea in computer science." -Alan Kay

"Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves." - Alan Kay

...and that's the guy that invented SmallTalk!

Everybody is so concerned about carving giant stone blocks, and mixing sand with muddy clay to make mortar.  While that's going on, a few of us have discovered that there's a way to automate the creation of ceramic bricks.  When one of us comes back with excitement to the mud pits and passionately proclaims that there's a fundamentally better way to do things, the response is merely a passing glance of scorn at the machine, and then a lot of yelling.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?  You can't make pyramids with that thing! We don't have time for this, and nobody understands what you're doing anyway!  Look at all of those turn knobbies and buttons and stuff, how is anybody expected to actually use this thing?"

"But but...  this is just a prototype!  It's just what I was able to put together in a little bit of time to demonstrate.  If we could get everybody to understand this, then we could build a really nice brick press machine, along with a brick-laying crane. Then when we're not spending all of our time making and placing bricks, we can think about better materials, and fundamentally new ways to architect our buildings!  We can smelt ore, make steel, and once we've figured that out I hear there's this concept called an I-beam that..."

"CRANES!?  Sure, maybe you can do that to lift your puny ceramic bricks, but you can't make a machine that will lift 10 ton blocks!  It'll topple over!  We have a team that uses the time-proven tradition of pushing our blocks on rolling logs up massive earthen ramps.  THAT'S the way to construct great buildings.  We've seen what happens when you try other ways - the folks over in the PHP kingdom make all of their stuff out of lumber.  Sure, it's quick to harvest, cut, and build, but you know what happens when their buildings catch fire."

"No!  You're missing the point!  Stop thinking in terms of giant stone blocks, or even lumber, and look at what we can do with steel I-beams.  Once we have the infrastructure in place to manufacture them, we can then create buildings ten times as tall as our pyramids, in 10% of the materials, in a fraction of the time, with significantly less slaves.

"BWUAHAHAHA!  You expect us to believe that?  Preposterous!  Look, we have work to do, if we don't get back our competition will crush us.  Why don't you use your silly brick machine to make a nice kennel for the royalty's hunting hounds?"

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe I wasted my time reading this article when I should really be stomping more straw into my mud pit.

    ReplyDelete