<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples

19Jan/06Off

Now We’re Getting Somewhere (Part 2)

A higher order of abstraction.  That's the answer.

What is the value in such a thing?  With each level of abstraction that is added, you free up resources to work on higher order concepts.  You free up the mind to work on the grand scheme.  It wasn't until humams had sufficiently advanced agricultural technology that abstracted away the process of creating food, that the human race was able to go about it's business, doing bigger and better things.

It's the ultimate layer of abstraction.  You go to the grocery store and pick up a head of lettuce or to 7-11 and pick up a bag of chips...you are almost oblivious to the enormity of the concept.  Our ancestors even one hundred years ago would be amazed at the convenience that we have today.

Obviously, this abstraction could never have occurred without the right tools and technologies in place.  Without the combustion engine, we'd still be tilling plots of land using horses and oxen.   But if every person that wanted a combustion engine had to build his/her own, then that would also lead us nowhere.

Few of the managers in IT departments and business people ever think about building solutions in this light.  They want ten people working to build engines on demand instead of investing in a small shop, equipped with high quality tools, to build only engines.  People are mired in immediate needs and completing low order thoughts. 

I need a tomato in three months.  You better start growing one today.

There are of course, at several ways to deal with this problem.  The simplest solution is to say "Well, if it pays the bills, I'll go dig a whole and plant that tomato seed".  A more sophisticated approach would be to say "Well, I bet she'll want more tomatoes down the line, so I'll dig ten holes and grow ten plants".  And even beyond that, you may start to get the big picture: "If I invest in machinery to dig these holes and plant the tomatos for me..."

The problem is in that initial investment.  Few people have the foresight to see beyond it.  Even if it'll take an extra month just to build that infrastructure, once it's in place, I can gaurantee you 100 tomatoes every month.  I can even plant different tomatoes if you please, since most tomatoes have the same requirements.  And even if you get sick of tomatoes and you want peppers now, with the machinery in place, I can switch to peppers if that suits your tastes.

Posted by Charles Chen

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