[FoRK] KK: the art of endless upgrades

Gary Stock gstock at nexcerpt.com
Tue May 17 13:58:11 PDT 2011

On 5/17/11 10:04 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> I can see very permanent
> things decay in my own lifetime. Surprising, asphalt doesn't last forever,
> nor do iron and even stone.
I recall a class in Segovia, touching on design features of the 
aqueducts built there ~2,000 years ago.  The professor noted that they 
may remain standing (and essentially functional) that long again -- 
perhaps longer.  He then commented on the pomposity of our use of steel 
rebar to "improve" concrete construction.  In half that time, 
archaeologists will be either confused or amused by the little round red 
holes -- hollow tubes where those steel bars once were -- presuming any 
of the concrete remains intact.

He instilled considerable respect for Roman stonemasons...

> Everything, without
> exception, requires additional energy and order to maintain itself.
I see a corollary here, especially evident if you drop earnings to zero, 
and live from fixed savings for more than a few months:  every 
commercial entity is trying to find ways to siphon money away from you.  
No matter how much you simplify, or how well you barter, if you have a 
financial life, something or someone continually extracts money from 
you... silently and relentlessly.

> Keeping a website or a software program afloat is like keep a yacht
> afloat. It is a black hole for attention.
That is ~one~ thing. (Maintenance does things.)

> Here is news to the young: Crap accumulates in code.
That is ~another~ thing.  (Nothing "accumulates" in code, unless you 
change the code.)

> Chips weaken.
That is yet ~another~ thing.  (Physics dominates reality.)

> And then there is the assault of the changing digital landscape.
That is yet ~another~ ~other~ thing.  (Context is rarely static.)

The writer, having blithely confounded these four quite different things 
(maintenance, change, entropy, externalities) permits disagreement over 
his premise.


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