Fads, waves of the future, etc.

Fads are standing waves of marketing/sales/technology that have limited lifetime, yet generate buzz. Fads die out, and they consume resources during their existence. Fads rarely ever do more than help cull the herd … assisting evolutionary processes that weed crappy technology dressed up nicely and packaged for sale.

Best example of these I can come up with were the cycle stealing codes, that turned your machine into a “supercomputer” by aggregating cycles across many hundreds and thousands of machines. Run your code on it. The economics of it are unbeatable. This is inevitable. Or at least the pitches went that way.

Venture groups fawned over the technology. It couldn’t lose, it was the wave of the future. All those bad HPC companies had better watch out, cause the cycle machines were a comin, and they would forever change the landscape of HPC.

This was 2001 or so.

Now, 11 years later, those “bad” HPC companies still exist. What about the cycle stealing companies?

A fad has one or more fatal flaw, that is usually masked, or glossed over. Its not explained, not discussed. Its an implementation detail. A simple matter of programming. Or similar.

Then there was Itanium. Not the proudest moment in Intel’s existence, but IMO they’ve more than made up for that particular epic failure. Used an VLIW architecture. VLIW was an awesome idea in theory. In practice, good compilers were a SMOP. We heard all about how by 2003 or so Itanium would dominate everything. What happened?

Well, reality has a way of proviing such punditry wrong. And not just a little bit wrong, but a lot bit wrong.

If someone is telling you “this is the wave of the future”, watch your wallet, they are trying to sell you something.

If on the other hand, they are explaining in careful detail what the issues are, and how to go about addressing them, you might want to pay attention to them.

Reality has a way of dealing with bad ideas and predictions gussied up as something they are not. And its positively brutal to those who fail to follow sane pathways. Sure, some people get lucky, and some of them insist that their luck is in fact skill. Doesn’t alter fundamental objective reality though.

Look, I’m a recovering physicist type. I don’t like BS, I don’t like it when people BS, and I really lose respect when they BS, pretending to be objective, and then sell their vision for their preferred direction as “objective advice”. Yeah, that and $5USD will by you a grande mocha triple shot non-fat no-whip from Starbucks.

If someone promises you a silver bullet, question them hard. Chances are its only worth silver to them. If someone shows you something improbable, chances are that it is. Fads tend to do this. So do economic inevitabilities. Because they are rarely ever inevitable, and when you start looking closely, you see the economics doesn’t even work out.

Fads will come and go. And if you are not careful, and sign onto one of those, you could find budgets wasted on some non-viable system that you now have an unchangeable business dependency upon. And this is good … how?

Viewed 68301 times by 5491 viewers


One thought on “Fads, waves of the future, etc.

Comments are closed.