If you want to read an inspiring article about software architecture get yourself across to Rip Rowan’s Google Plus Stream, where he reproduces a blog previously published and since removed from the stream of Steve Yegge, a Google technologist.
Whilst it is understandable that such an invitation might not be met with a great deal of enthusiasm by every reader of this blog, if you want to delve into something a little different, written by someone with a genuine passion for their subject matter, you could do worse. For an added twist Steve’s Yegge’s blog meant to have been read by a few select confidants was published far and wide to 18,000 of his “closest” friends on Google plus. With delicious irony this technological whizz kid practising at search’s highest altar, failed to grasp how Circles on Plus worked, now incredible, making this one of the most compelling send to all’s
Yet whilst it is easy to mock such a schoolboy error and to also entertain thoughts that someone with such an implicit understanding of how things work on a computer could only really have been acting in an accidentally-on-purpose kind of fashion, such contemplations fail to grasp the true value of the piece itself. Yes, this is probably the greatest Reply To All Fail to date, in the short history of Social Media but oh gosh what a good one and a truly insightful comparison of today’s top rates technology companies.
Steve compares Amazon where he used to work, the world’s 270th biggest company by revenues according to Forbes Global 500 and Google, the world’s 325th. This is an interesting monetary comparison by Forbes but might well make one wonder what value it has when you consider that Google earns $8 billions in profit every year and Amazon a “mere” $1 billion but the picture is often painted by the media of Google being the fiery go getter and Amazon employing a more traditional bricks and mortar business delivering goods to the masses and this is actually the status quo reinforced by Yegge in his polemic, with his initial fiery defence of the present employer where he loves working and his public flailing of his previous master. However, when he begins talking in detail about the Service Orientated Architecture that Amazon began developing in 2003, an architecture which has resulted in a plethora of brilliant new services being made available to companies big and small, who can leverage the power of Amazon’s infrastructure for their own IT means, things start to get interesting.
The picture is often painted of Google being a bright organisation that understands the way things lie and predicts technological progress. We love their search, it can’t be beat after all and the sheer ubiquity of their products that make our everyday live’s easier makes us happy and suspicious in turns, so to read this blog where Google is presented as lagging behind the other large technological powers, namely Amazon, Apple Microsoft and Facebook is exciting. And Yegge’s reservations about Facebook are thought provoking too. He presents a picture of Jeff Bezos, as a madly driven dictator with the huge presence of mind to understand that Amazon’s power lay in it’s engineers and infrastructure and to use that to create a platform which tens of thousands of small companies could leverage instead of having to develop their own IT infrastructure and he can comprehend how Amazon could have gone down that path, as incredibly difficult as it was to begin with. But there is no similar understanding of why Facebook chose to go down that path: they just did and suddenly this social network has one of the biggest and most powerful platforms used by its 800 million active users. It’s a good article, take a read when you have a spare half hour.