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dissemination of something 2000-06-06 19:15:00
by marasmus
Microsoft, the great corporate beasty it is, follows the same routines as any ant colony. What we often get misconstrued about in our heads is that all these huge, mammoth, absurdly massive things around us are just copycat duplicates of very common and simple structures we have found in nature. In all truth, we are a very unoriginal species. We're great at picking up knowledge, using it, and forgetting to give credit where it's due, thus leaving each other with the impression that we're incredibly innovative.

I don't care much for the non-technically-inclined folk, and for the longest time I've been trying to pinpoint what it is about them that drives me absolutely up one wall and down the other. As a whole, the problem lies with the different perceptions we have on reality, whatever it is for each of us. I manifest my little reality around an awful lot of rational and scientific thought processes, very structured and very logical. What seems peculiar is that I can't stand others who do just this. There are huge gaping holes of experience and understanding in everyday events that I cannot fill with logic and staid, classical thought, so these holes get filled (sometimes on their own) by a seemingly aesthetic content.

here's a perfect example - i've been building a backend database system for a sunglass company that allows their website (which i am not working on at all) to handle purchases and send the purchase information down to my database server. From there, they can build sales logs, ship the orders, issue refunds, and do all of that hippy business crap. When they have a transaction take place, my server receives a big ass chunk of data that it has to sort out, including the customer's name, their address, what they bought, their credit card, all that crap. It's organized in a manner i felt to be pretty logic-friendly: Each TYPE of item they purchase gets one line of information sent. So, if they buy 600 of the same type of sunglasses, my server gets one line of information describing their purchase. If they get 13 of one sunglass type and 3 of another type, my server gets two lines of information, one for each type of sunglass. This is the same way your standard invoice is printed when buying something at the store:
 8 Quantity    Lightbulb                       $3.00             Total $24.00
2 Quantity Light Fixture, 4 sockets $10.00 Total $20.00

The difficulty, of course, is that some things, such as TAX or SHIPPING are not normally calculated on a per-item basis. We generally assume that tax and shipping is calculated at the end of the cycle. This website is sending me the information so that the tax and shipping totals for the WHOLE order are duplicated on EACH line item. This does not fit with the logical organization of having the lines of data organized by item type. Hence, the logical structure is not fully intact.

That's not the real root of it though... the problem is what caused the logical structure to not be entirely intact. The programmers of the website created this illogical transaction system, and it's because they didn't apply a very simple question to their project: Does this function as a whole being, or is this a frankenstein creation? All this is.... is a retrospective question that asks oneself if what has been created is of good Quality. You just get a feeling about Quality - either it's full, and whole, or it's chopped up and somewhat empty feeling when it's done. That chopped-up and empty feeling is what really got to me when staring at this mess.

Back to the root of my interrogation here, the rift I feel between myself and non-geekfolk is normally because they prefer a singular perspective of the world: either utilitarian and logical or artistic and romantic (of the arts,not of the poontang). Neither perspective gives me any sense of true structure - there's a lack of Quality that can only be remedied by constantly using both mentalities together, to complement each other, instead of ripping at each others' throats. I just don't understand how other people see things sometimes, perhaps because i doubt and re-doubt and re-doubt my doubts until i've sewn up all the holes I see in something, which is apparently more effort than most people give to things. They see Microsoft the Giant, I see a very branched out and structured ant pile. They see a computer with keys and a mouse, I see the real-time activity of ideas and data being transferred and shared and re-interpereted across a world of conductivity.

It makes me wonder what they think of the word Quality.