Architecture Weekly #160 - 1st January 2024
Welcome to the new week and New Year!
I see many people doing yearly summaries and setting up their goals. I have to confess that I’m not doing such. There are a few points to that:
I’m not feeling interesting enough to share my summary publicly with others,
I don’t see a date switch as enough of an important trigger for that,
I also think the year is too short to make a big impact on my life but also too long to make precise plans.
Isn’t that counterintuitive? It is, but actually makes sense. I expanded on it in my latest article, backing it with a quote from Dune.
What’s your take on that?
What I wish us all in the new year is more empathy in our IT industry and less ego-cult and bravado.
We like to watch others like we were playing Transport Tycoon. That's easy, as we can feel like Mad Scientist. We can make predictions and bold statements, as we're not facing the consequences.
That leads too often to the glorification of "the end justifies the means" approach. The most colourful example is Musk. Whatever stupid thing he does, there are people saying: "He's doing fine and knows what he's doing". Is he?
Let’s have a look at the real data, like the great Reuters analysis of how Tesla manufacturing looks like:
And the latest results of the X/Twitter financial evaluation:
Is it all about Musk? It's not; he's "just" currently the most obvious example of our industry. I'm sure you can find such ego cults also in the organisations you are/were working.
We have to realise that as technology advances, our projects will have more impact, and thus, we should apply more empathy and be more responsible for what we're doing.
And how we're doing.
Good takes on how to shift your mindset if you’re working on a software product came from Barry Overeem and Florian Bellmann:
Barry tells on the importance of understanding business not only from the logic you need to implement but also how it works and the impact of your actions.
Florian explains how to consider quality, why it’s essential, and why we should not think about it as a limiting but an enabling factor.
Check also two episodes of CoRecursive Podcast:
They’re showing stories explaining why empathy is not just some philosophical nonsense but that it enables and makes our engineering processes better and thus delivers successful products.
If your business model can only be profitable if you decrease quality in critical aspects or require stealing, then it’s not a great business model. That applies to the above link but also to current generative AI. They’re built on others’ privacy (also yours) and other people's work (books, articles, etc.) without their consent.
The New York Times decided to sue OpenAI and Microsoft:
The cynic in me says this won’t change anything, as it’ll eventually end up in a silent settlement, as it typically happens in such cases. Especially since it won’t be easy to prove that they used NYT articles, even though we all know they did. IMHO, privacy is one of the make-or-breaks for the LLM business models.
Of course, laughing at or ignoring trends is not a solution. It’s undeniable that they’re shaping trends. That’s why I’m not only focusing on the AW editions on the technical design aspect. We need to understand the environment we’re in to be able to drive our decisions efficiently. Even stupid trends made by people we don’t support can impact us.
Many of us were impacted last year by layoffs that also became fashionable. C-level people need to show their investors how many they fired, whereas in the previous cycle, they praised themselves on how many they hired.
Justin Garrison wrote about the grim consequences of AWS firing 23,000 engineers. He explained why you should analyse that prediction, e.g., more frequent outages.
He also predicted that they won’t fire him but try to push him out. Yes, he’s working at AWS.
Adrian Cockcroft (ex VP Amazon Sustainability Architecture) added his take on that:
In summary, I don’t think the situation for Amazon is as bad as it was for Sun in 2002, and in the short term they are going to continue to grow the business slowly. However I do think there’s lessons to be learned, and that the delusion that they can roll back work from home and enforce RTO without killing off innovation is a big problem that will increasingly hurt them over time. I personally hired a bunch of people into AWS, in my own team and by encouraging people to join elsewhere. Nowadays I’d say a hard no to anyone thinking of working there. Try and get a job at somewhere like NVIDIA instead.
I don’t think that this advice is only applicable to AWS.
Check also other links!
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