The Money In Cleanup

I have an acquaintance that helps migrate businesses off of ancient and inappropriate databases onto more recent ones. If you wonder how ancient and inappropriate let me simply state “not meant for industry” and “first created when One Piece the anime started airing” and you can guess. Now and then he literally goes and cleans up questionable and persisting bad choices.

In the recent unending and omnipresent discussions of AI, I saw a similar proposal. A person rather cynical about AI mused someone might make a living in the next few years backing a company’s tech and processes OUT of AI. Such things might seem ridiculous, until you consider my aforementioned acquaintance and the fact he gets paid to help people back out past decisions. Think of it as “migration from a place you shouldn’t have migrated to.”

It’s weird to think in technology, which always seems (regrettably) to be about forward motion and moving forward that there’s money in reversing decisions. Maybe it was the latest thing and now it’s not, or maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time (it wasn’t), but now you need someone to help you get out of your choice. Fortunately there are people who have turned “I told you so” into a service.

I find these “back out businesses” to be a good and needed reminder that technology is really not about forward. Yeah, the marketing guys and investors may want it, but as anyone who’s spent time in the industry knows, it’s not the case. Technology is a tool, and if the tool doesn’t work or is a bad choice, you want out of it. The latest, newest, fasted is not always the best – and may not be the best years later. Technology is not always about forward, even if someone tells you it is (before they sell you yet another new gizmo).

Considering the many, many changes in the world of tech, from social media to search to privacy, I wonder how much more “back out businesses” might evolve. Will there be coaches to get you to move to federated social media? How can you help a company get out of a bad relationship with a service vendor with leaky security and questionable choices? For that matter can we maybe take a look at better hosting arrangements and websites that aren’t ten frameworks in a trenchcoat?

I don’t know, and the world is in a terribly unpredictable state. But I’m amused to think that somewhere in my lifetime the big tech boom might be “oops, sorry.” Maybe we can say “moving away is really moving forward,” get some TED talks, and make not making bad immediate choices cool.

Steven Savage

Technical Fads And Those Who Benefits

Guess which tech fad I’m talking about?  Doesn’t matter.  I’ve been in IT nearly 30 years as of this writing and not much has changed, it just goes faster while the ephemera of it all becomes more obvious.

Every industry, community, etc. has its fads. Thats normal, humans love new stuff, humans are social, and humans innovate.  A seemingly trite fad today could be the foundation of great future potential.  It could also vanish, but that’s just life.

In tech fads – hell, most fads – one of the issues is money.  Fads can make you money especially if you jump on them, create them, support them, or exploit them and tech lets you do it fast.  Tech has been wildly successful the last few decades and has lots of money, attracts money, and attracts people who want to make money.

Past a certain point, the money starts to matter so much the reason for the fad – sometimes good reasons – doesn’t matter.  At that point I find you end up with really two populations jumping on fads.

People with money:  You got money, you can make money – and when others are making money, you want to run up the score or have more power than them.  You can invest in many fads and hope one pays off.  Of course this distorts the actual value of whatever new ideas are out there as you can take over a market (leading to enshittification) or just keep it going long enough to cash out.

People looking for a quick score:  Jumping on fads in tech – and elsewhere – can be profitable or can seem to be.  Everyone’s ready to try and make a quick buck and fads promise a lot of opportunity.

So everyone jumps on a fad, someone gets rich, and the fad either fades, breaks, or actually becomes something solid.  Then the next fad starts and here we go again.

Thing is, two results tend to come out of this when there’s lots of money to be made.  First, some people make a lot of money, and some people get hosed and lose out.  That distorts the next fad when it’s involves a lot of money (like we see in tech, film, etc.)

First, the people who made a lot of money can jump on, take advantage of, or start the next fad easier.  They have money, they can now multiply it again!

Second, the people who didn’t make a quick score or didn’t get in on it get more desperate for the next fad.  Why miss out?  Why not try to make back what you lost?  Why can’t you be like the people who won last time?

So the next fad is more funded – and more desperate.

Where does this go?  Honestly I think this happens in many areas, not just tech, but it’s all so intertwined maybe that doesn’t matter much.  But one thing it’s not to judge by environmental pressures and economic issues is sustainable.  Winners win more, losers get more desperate, and more and more fads don’t make anything.

I suspect at some point you either see the fractures above rapidly shatter systems, and probably causing that or around that time, there’s one big fad everyone bets on.  For that one, few to no one wins and a lot of people lose.

Just staying that with our environmental problems, that could be geohacking (which I support to an extent).  Chew that one over.

Steven Savage

Wondering What Won’t Be Here

As of late, I’ve started wondering what technologies we’re used to are just going to go away. That’s also a great way to close out the end of the year.

Of course technologies always fall by the wayside. Some don’t work, some get replaced, some get improved, some aren’t practical. There’s a lot created in human history that’s not in widespread use in Western society. Technologies going away is normal (as is reviving them, but that’s another story).

I wonder as of late how many technologies we’ve created are a mix of unsustainable and actually just useless. How many will just go away or could because there’s no reason to keep them or we can’t.

Mostly I’m thinking about “computer stuff,” because that’s what I’ve worked on almost all of my career. I just feel like the last decade or so things have gotten faintly ridiculous.

  • Embedding computers and wireless into everything. I’m missing simple electro-mechanical solutions, cable connections, and of course I wonder about security issues. Plus how sustainable is “microchips everywhere.”
  • So-called “AI” which is really just large language models and or algorithms. There’s a ton of hype around it, while it consumes resources and creates all sorts of legal and information issues. AI hype also eclipses really good tools for things like image analysis and searching that aren’t as sensational.
  • The ads in everything. Yes, we can put ads in everything, but it feels like it’s gotten overdone. Also how much web technology has grown around serving damn ads.
  • Social media. I think we’ve started to see people rethinking how it’s used – let alone the social, security, and technical issues. Also it seems everyone keeps trying to undermine everyone else. Oh, and ads.
  • Streaming. Maybe I’m old but I’m starting to miss cable.
  • Graphic cards. Do I need the latest particle effects when some games run on the CPU? Also, this stuff is getting used for crypto.

And so on.

I’ve been wondering if what we see in technology is basically a lot of people made money, so they can “make” things succeed by investing their word and considerable money into it. Others already had a lot of money so they can try to “make” a market. Combined together I wonder how much of our technological world is just propped up by money, hype, and newness.

And I wonder how much of that is going to be around because what’s the value proposition. Streaming is nice and all, but it’s hard to keep track of everything and it gets pricey. Computer everything doesn’t seem sustainable between costs and the fact it seems we’re well on the way to see refrigerators infected with malware. How much of the technology out there is needed versus just hyped, and we race to get ahead? How oversaturated are markets?

Also can any of this survive our various crises in the world? I mean stuff is kinda shaky right now.

I don’t know. But I have the gut feeling that there’s changes coming as some things can’t be sustained or that no one wants them, needs them, or can pay for them.

Steven Savage