The Future is the Past - Moving on

After reading the millionth “Corona and the future of work” post you might actually want to go to hibernate mode and wake up after everything settled to see that nothing changed. But what would be a “change” anyway? I prefer to see the current crisis as an accelerator, so things in a lot of places are moving a bit faster in the directions they moved anyway. Home office, authoritarian instruments, precariat. Let’s see if we later recognize the net outcome as positive or negative.

It seems to be a good time to think about past, current and future developments, so here are some thoughts on how I would like to continue. My personal interest in web development ceased to exists. In a world with negative prizes for oil I hereby declare a negative interest in web development. It was a good source of income and for a while even interesting to learn. But by now I got enough of Scrum (and anything else that you might or might not call Agile), test-driven development and the next framework that tries (but does not come even close) to re-invent stuff from the 90ies that proved to be better. Fortunately we got rid of bosses that command us around, but now we let our methodologies do it. And I understand that in a world without cultural progress there is a human need to create the illusion of it. Our idea of the future has shrunken to the presention of the latest phone or JavaScript framework. But well, the worst thing is that I am just bored to tears working on web projects. Too often I feel like Sisyphos, rolling my tasks to the Done column and then falling back to the Backlog where a never-ending list is waiting. I do not even remember the last time I was working on something interesting. Time to move on. Or better: address this from different angle. Not dropping out but focussing the efforts.

I still like working with computers. If someone would force me to describe what a computer is too me I would call it “the world’s most complex toy”. I never seriously used any (social) web platform (as a consumer I would call the modern web: TV and one of my music sources). I always enjoyed to think about computer projects that were never done before. That display some kind of magic that the user enjoys. When human and computer do something together that neither of them could do alone. That is where computer technologies can provide something useful to humankind, in my opinion. Here is a practical example: besides web development I was here and there (lately more and more) working in natural language processing. There is basic technology like speech recognition and machine translation, but this is stuff is not too interesing to me. Humans can transcribe and translate, and I will not live long enough to see computers come even close to human performance (let’s ignore articifial benchmarks that we use nowadays to evaluate NLP). But speech recognition, for example, has great potential to introduce new interaction between humans and machines, and this is the part that make it interesting. How do we merge computation into task-solving to generate new opportunities in creating and inventing?

A very good example of this approach is Dynamicland. An awesome project and Bret Victor is involved (you are hereby ordered to watch all his videos on Youtube). This is basic research in communication design and human-computer interaction. Let’s not invent new terms here just to mimic some kind of progress. I am currently collecting and refreshing some of my projects to see what they could contribute in this area. The funny thing is: of all the different projects that I implemented, the ones that involve a lot of human-computer interaction are by far the ones that I care(d) most about. There are even some award-winning ideas among them that I did not follow-up on. I always went back to web development. Not anymore. I might use web technologies for my projects, but I am not a web developer. I build the future of human-computer interaction.

About me

My name is Peter Bouda and I am a software developer with more than 20 years of professional experience in application development. I help you to bring your application to market as quickly as possible.

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