Venkatesh Rao

In the days of 64k memories, programmers wrote code with as much care as ancient scribes carved out verses on precious pieces of rock, one expensive chisel-pounding rep at a time.
In the remarkably short space of 50 years, programming has evolved from rock-carving parsimony to paper-wasting profligacy.
Still living machine-coding gray eminences bemoan the verbosity and empty abstractions of the young. My one experience of writing raw machine code (some stepper-motor code, keyed directly into a controller board,  for a mechatronics class) was enlightening, but immediately convinced me to run away as fast as I could.
But why shouldn’t you waste bits or paper when you can, in service of clarity and accessibility? Why layer meaning upon meaning until you get to near-impenetrable opacity?
I think it is because the process of compression is actually the process of validation and comprehension.  When you ask repeatedly, who is listening, every answer generates a new set of conflicts. The more you resolve those conflicts before hitting Publish, the denser the writing. If you judge the release density right, you will produce a very generative piece of text that catalyzes further exploration rather than ugly flame wars.

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