Been thinking a lot lately about the need to focus, simplify, and devise useful and future-friendly efficiencies for the web.
A certain level of simplification (and certainly focus) makes good sense in all areas of product development. I recall bumping into an Apple poster a while back advertising their new OS with “…over 300 new features”. As a user, being faced with a number of this size made me nervous rather than happy.
Focussing is however far easier said than done…especially when faced with business imperatives, stockholder pressures, and the want/need to innovate (and do so before the other guy).
On that topic, I ran into this lovely passage (from a long-lost Scientific American article) which goes a good long way in explaining what’s going on:
“The software industry frustrates long-term investments by producing ever larger, slower programs that require ever larger, faster machines. At the March conference, Nathan Myhrvold [Microsoft's then vice president of applications and content] modestly proposed Nathan’s First Law: “Software is a gas,” he said. “It expands to fill its container.” In fact, that is more of a policy than a necessity. “After all,” he observed later with a laugh, “if we hadn’t brought your processor to its knees, why else would you get a new one?”
Why else indeed.
Myhrvold also goes on to say that: “In demos, the new technologies are inarguably cool. Cool is a powerful reason to spend money.”
Fifteen years later (the article is dated July 1997), little of this appears to have changed. Make of that what you will