Thursday, October 06, 2011
The beauty of computers
What can be beautiful in can of silicon and wires and which also usually contains lots of bugs? Knuth entitled his famous books "The Art of Computer Programming" because he considered that computer programming cannot be considered yet a science, but it's rather a craftsmanship. All software licensees have a part where it is stated that the particular software is not "fit for a particular purpose" (see for example Mozilla Public License, section 7 here). The best joke about software engineers is the one where all kind of engineers try to fix a car and the software guy proposes that all step out of the car, get back in and try to start it again. This is how much the programmers trust their work! So in this wonderful (i.e. full of unanswered questions) industry of computers there was a man who maybe thought: we may not be able to do it right, but at least let's make it beautiful. And he did it time and again: from the calligraphic fonts that he introduced on computers, the mouse and the careful researched user interfaces, to the overall design of all Apple products. Then Bill Gates copied some of his ideas and Google guys were probably inspired by him when they designed their user interface. If so many people still use these beasts called computers and don't totally hate us for it, it is in part due to the work of Steve Jobs, who for sure will be remembered for a long time.