This multi-part series will explore the reasons why the modern World Wide Web and its ill-designed suite of languages, protocols, and ecosystem are the single most harmful development in the entire history of computing. Within it, we will make every effort to bring down its technologies, its proponents, and the false economies it has engendered. No effort will be wasted on attempting to justify it, nor to show charity to those involved.
My desktop computer has the following specs:
- (2) Intel Xeon E5680 6-core, 12-thread processors at 3.33GHz
- 48GB of PC2100 DDR ECC RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX-1080 Founders Edition GPU
- (2) 240GB 6g/s SATA SSDs in RAID0 (OS and apps)
- (4) 2TB 10,000RPM 6g/s SATA HDDs (data)
- Debian GNU/Linux 10, running the latest proprietary NVIDIA graphics drivers
- Windows 7 Professional is available by way of a dual-boot configuration, though this is very rarely employed
The desktop application for Slack, the popular messaging and collaboration platform, takes 13.35 seconds on my machine to switch workspaces and render its basic view. It should also be noted that I have a 400Mbit/sec Internet connection here, and my workstation connects to the core switch by way of a pair of gigabit Ethernet cables in an LACP bond.
Evil corporations love this technology, as the proliferation of code monkeys adept at copying and pasting from W3Schools and Stack Overflow makes labor cheap (at least on the surface–technical debt from this generation of irresponsible “developers” is likely to be higher than anything we’ve ever seen), and they can target all three major platforms from a single codebase. With a sufficiently large army of marketing drones, a lack of alternatives, these companies have brainwashed their users into believing that an application which displays a spinning progress indicator for more than ten seconds, just to render its basic view, is an acceptable user experience.
My first computer, having a 4.77MHz 8088 CPU and 512KB of RAM, could repaginate an entire WordStar document, or recalc an entire Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet in this much time or less, and the basic shell of the application views were rendered in sub-second timeframes. A modern native application (one written in a real programming language, using real operating system APIs), with all the flashy UI chrome and graphics demonstrates the same level of performance.
In the early to mid 1990s, developers attempting to use Visual Basic for commercial applications were ridiculed and told to go learn C++ or even Pascal, because VB (until version 5) was a threaded p-code implementation, rather than a true compiled language, and performance thus suffered. But, even the worst-performing Visual Basic application can render its views much, much faster than any Electron application, while running on a 16MHz 386SX with no FPU!
I suppose that the culture of the day is to blame, as the majority of modern web “developers” are crunchy hipster trend-slaves, sitting in front of their MacBooks at Starbucks, sipping on their half-caf no-whip skinny kombucha soy abominations and repeating argumentum ad populum to themselves until they believe that everything that’s new must be true, while changing technology stacks faster than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends.
Much of this is just bad economics: the Silicon Valley modus operandi is to come up with an idea (synergizing), beat the soul out of it in focus groups (market research), get Vulture Capitalist funding (where a simple equity position means “we’ll take the equity, you assume the position”), release the most minimally-functional, poor-performing pile of slop you can (rapid iteration), sell it to a greedy and evil Fortune 500 (here’s your millions, now, give us your soul), take your money, and go do something else. There is no desire in this shitfest shark-tank of capitalism run amok to actually build good products or lasting developer institutions. It’s a one-night stand, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, entrepreneurial trainwreck.
And, the developers aren’t even leaving bus fare on the nightstand for their hapless users.
We must do better.