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Capitalism Has Almost Finished Destroying Software

Just a little farther to go before we get a thinkpiece about how the world is "post-software" and we need something else [that we can suck boatloads of money out of before we discard its withered husk].

Myopia Is Caused By Capitalism

A bunch of companies made a lot of money in the last two decades, and they did it - primarily - by being first to market. The Silicon Valley, startup, "eat-the-world" culture created by that mindset has filtered out into every company that writes software in any competitive market. Naturally, this exclusively rewards myopia. There is no future value, there's only what you can ship out to customers tomorrow.

Of course the irony here is that the billionaire VC leeches pushing this mindset are making money on the future - but not too far into the future that everything crashes down under its own weight. Just far enough they can sell their stake and get rich.

Software Myopia Causes All The Rest of Our Problems

Education and production will follow the financial incentive. If every company is looking for the most rapid returns, they will choose the tooling that helps them get there. That's Virtual DOM tools like React - for now at least. The tooling is obviously and objectively inferior to a lot of other options, but its one redeeming characteristic is that you can get things done insanely fast. Maintainability be damned.

If every company is looking for React developers, that's what bootcamps will train, because that's what students want. And of course, the high hire-rate after graduation is a great statistic, too.

If the entire field around you looks like it's all framework development, there's no financial incentive to actually learn your programming language. After all, no one is hiring JavaScript developers, they're hiring React developers (and Vue developers, and...).


The technical debt accrued along this set of predefined rails (another tool in this exact vein, but it's backend) is absolutely massive. Any product of any size eventually collapses under its own weight. I've seen it happen - always in slow motion - at two separate companies. No surprise both are VC-funded.

This hell-cycle and the - obviously apparent - outcome are why people hate JavaScript and constantly build tools to replace it. It's also why companies hire more and more developers to throw at their software (who - of course - do the exact same thing, compounding the problem).

It's a Human Problem

The solution is undeniably simple: Value long-term quality over short-term profit.

I appreciate how utterly insane I sound, which is - of course - the problem. We can't change the financial incentives without changing the structure of our country's financial system.

Now, we could also fix this from the bottom up, too. All it would take would be every developer refusing to reach for the easy, fast solution and demanding to do things the right way.

By the nature of the situation in which we find ourselves, this is equally insane. Developers have constructed stories they tell about themselves: as capable, valuable individuals making a difference... "changing the world." Admitting that the entire basis for that identity was a lie is personally devastating.

"I have sacrificed both my craft and the product of my effort at the altar of faster deployments so that somebody above me can make a buck a little faster. I am essentially a machine that a capitalist can extract dollars from and then discard." is a real tough pill to swallow.