Pie in the sky technology (programming)

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written by owen on 2015-Mar-22.

Whenever I see technology evangelists doing surveys about the tech landscape in Jamaica it always points back to one thing; they want to see how high they can raise the bar. Or better yet what is the biggest "buzzword pie kite" they can sail. "Lets see if I can find some HTML6 developers because HTML6 is hot right now" or "going to be hot once the specs come out". You would think that the difficulty in finding these people would suggest some kind of supply and demand issue. But it seems that the base premise behind all the hyping is to avoid mature technologies, for some reason, I am not sure, maybe "been there, done that", "lets see if I can lead a revolution" in something - anything.

The problem is this hyping of "newess" is not productive for the local landscape - nothing gets done, all the time is spent watching videos and reading docs, trying to play catch-up. Its like a new obsession is born every day. Soon you see these "new" technologies popping up in job postings because some HR representative went to a conference and saw it as the best "new" sliced bread. Who does this constant hype benefit? Programmers? No? Management? Users? No one really knows. New programmers, instead of spending their time honing their skills, finding something they want to actually use and enjoy, are thrown into a bottomless pit of RANDOM TECH MOMBO-JOMBO that they need to learn in order to be considered "cool". A.I., big data, 3d modelling, driverless cars, an endless list of edge case buzzwords.

Worst part of all this hyping and playing "catch-up" often goes for naught because the hype train is like waves in the ocean, it sways back and forth. Only the people riding the hype survive and thrive because they don't have to invest the time to learn or actually use the crap they are hyping. They take it as a job to hype but they never graduate to actually working on anything because hype is a never ending job on to itself.

Let me explain and rant abit;

New technology is new, complicated and takes time

Lets look at something like d3.js for example which is (according to wikipedia) is "a library to display given digital data into graphic, dynamic forms. It's an important tool in W3C compliant computing, using largely available SVG, Javascript, and CSS languages for data visualization.". Now this is relatively new technology. The first wikipedia entry for this library was made in June 2012, I assume that it was probably around long before 2012. But it only rose to prominence enough to earn a simple wiki entry in 2012. Today is 2015 how many people do you think will be "experts" in d3.js in a country such as Jamaica, merely 3 years later? Where are these people learning, publishing projects, and getting jobs in D3.js? Doesn't matter lets see if we can find some and define the "landscape" that will start the innovation revolution.

Constantly chasing the "new" tech carrot

It seems that proponents of new "tech" are constantly chasing newer and newer tech in order to create a constantly shifting and unpredictable market. It is like the Multi-Level-Marketing business of technology. I agree that we should be reaching for the sky but I think that there should also be school/support_group somewhere in Jamaica teaching D3.js so that there will be a market of students/hobbyists/professionals versed in the technology. Or maybe these so called "experts" are falling out of the sky, conceived and "born big" out of thin air. I do not really know. Android Material Design is a new carrot, I even see it in websites frameworks already. I am sure there are thousands of Android Material design "experts" in Jamaica migrating because they cannot find work. Lets see if we can get some people to chase the Material design carrot. There is always something to chase.

The constant influx of cutting edge layman news

It seems that the social media will retweet or repost any piece of news or article that pops up in the timeline. Google will begin ranking mobile-friendly sites higher starting April 21 - I have seen this all over the place. What is a mobile friendly website? Why do I need it when I can barely write good HTML? Why is google doing this? How does a mobile website help me when I am using a laptop or desktop computer?        If you dig deeper into the article you will see that the original article is about people doing searchs on CELLPHONES. No one is reading or checking sources. The article is clearly link bait directed catch people off guard. Hopefully I guess to push people to learn and implement newer tech like HTML5, mobile friendliness, d3.js etc. Someone who can barely write a HTML4 webpage or understand CSS is going to look at this and this what? Cant understand CSS? try SASS. because I don't know, something. Dream big, go hard or die. Whats next?

Moving the goal posts

Your app won't be successful if it does not have material design, every bell and whistle like all the popular high selling apps written by people getting paid a million dollars a month in a loft in New York. You want to be popular? I am sorry but you need to re-write you app so that it will look good on my Galaxy S6 in HD. HD assets, HD sound, HD animations and support for every new API in the SDK released last week (fb, ig, twitter logins). Buy a new computer while you are at it, desktops are dead? code on your smartphone. You cannot win. By the time you are done coding, Android 7 will be released and a new set of "standards", requirements, buzzwords and technologies that are are required, the Yo App will still be more popular. And of course all this expertise is rapidly moving and building to some ultimate point of.....something - a technological singularity - I don't really know. There is always something. The majority of students barely leave school understanding how to build a linked list in memory and yet are being encouraged to create cloud apps on distributed servers. Of course a few nerds will go off on their own and learn and be brilliant. The others? They will have be forced sink back into the shadows and work in call centers and gas stations or hustle people on social media. But we do not care about these others do we? All we care about are the rock stars and cheerleaders.

The "New Tech" Elitism

A web page built in 1995 that has no JS or even CSS is some how regulated to broken status for some odd reason. You should rebuild it using WordPress/Drupal and hook it up with Facebook graph plugins. I hear the Iphone 6+ phone cannot render the 4 kb of HTML4 anymore. Maybe I need to make it mobile friendly, add some CSS3 transitions or something like 2 mb of HTML5 to spice it up. There is always something. I saw a resume website that in total had 4 or 5 paragraphs of text but had a loading screen with over 10 megs of image assets. The constant push for newer and more convoluted versions of old technologies have led us down a path of "fluff" over content. You can write a todo list in HTML in a day or you can spend 6 months writing it with MVC with automated tests added for colour. There are 64 different ways to do it, just choose one, anyone, when you are done you will be an expert. By tommorow there will be 80 different ways to write a todo list. Wait until Angular 3 gets released, you get to be an expert all over again, and be apart of the crowd that is coding "the right way" and pushing technology forward towards the cutting edge.


We cannot keep chasing after these constantly evolving tech memes and buzzwords and encouraging others to jump on board just to leave them by the wayside when newer and more shiny things come onto the scene. Control your ADHD. There is a disconnect between the people doing actual work and the people running the hype train, retweeting articles and dropping non-sense-linkbait news. Who are the teaching people HTML5, C, Excel Macros, D3.js and word processing? Why are we not having more demo projects and workshops? Sometimes you have to actually meet people at their level and help them catch up. The constant hyping of random tech, mobile this, cloud that - while schools and colleges are barely teaching people LOOPS and Java 1.1, charging them a million dollars and you hear people wonder where are the "tech experts"? They exist but are all busy looking at jobs in ICT call centers, trying to pay back their student loans, watching tutorial videos on youtube, and reading free programming ebooks, trying to catch up to your hype.

There are many ways to encourage growth in the technology, just try to keep your hype based in reality and understand that not everyone spends their days reading buzzfeed, github and twitter. Some people have to actually get down and dirty into these awful things that you are promoting. Get a hype filter. If you have a lot of people who can use hammers find them work with hammers, don't send them links/videos about chainsaws. "Oh chainsaws are cool, I wish everybody were using chainsaws". Understand the tech that you are hyping, look at the long view. The hype affects resumes, job postings, job listings, management decisions, the uniformed and the technically handicapped. Control your ADHD.

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  1. You have 3 producers re-tweeting crap links that 5000 people read. If the producers aren't filtering then you expect the consumers to know any better? very unlikely.

    by owen 2015-Apr-07