Tag Archives: ephemeral

Ephemeral

stonemasonMy grandfather worked most of his life as a stonemason. Much of that time was spent restoring the ruin of a Bishop’s palace in Sherborne. His work is still visible long after his death. The work of the stonemasons who built the palace is still visible after more than 8 centuries. How long after you stop programming is any of your work going to last? If it is a desktop app, I doubt anyone will have a working computer with an OS that can run it in 20 years. If it is a web app it dies the day the hosting bill no longer gets paid. What are you going to show your grandchildren – some screenshots on faded printouts?

Everything is ephemeral over a long enough timescale. In the long run we are all dead, as John Maynard Keynes famously pointed out. But it is slightly depressing how short the timescale is for software. It lives fast,  but it also dies fast. Our work is more like that of an ice sculptor than that of a stonemason. I guess all we can hope for is that the software we spend so much of our life crafting brings us some fulfillment and improves the lives of our customers during it’s brief lifetime.