Waiheke, Aotearoa New Zealand

September 27, 2020

Home-Cookin'

Over the last few months, I've been hard at work behind the scenes building some new courses for everyone - the long-awaited 7-Day Sprint, and the Change Monsters. Everyone over in the Patreon has been really supportive seeing the monsters come to life, and it's felt great to finally - finally get to them.

But as I've worked on them, I've thought a lot about problems you might not expect with software.

Things like legacy and long-term usage. About data footprint, what privacy would mean if you took it as something more than a buzzword.

It's a longer conversation I'll probably save for another letter, but it's turned out that in 2020, if you want to make quality, secure, person-respecting software, you're going to need to build a lot of it from scratch.

If you've recently seen the Social Dilemma, this will sound a little familiar - the top frameworks for making software these days are made by Facebook and Google. Most private data is stored on either Amazon, Microsoft, or Google's servers.

Making software in 2020 without using those systems means paying more, doing more work, and getting less.

I've thought about how this mirrors other aspects of our lives - how we've given up quality and customizability for convenience and price. Clothes and shoes, now never tailor-made. Furniture picked from one of IKEA's two dozen bookshelves instead of cut in a woodworker's workshop, fit to our spaces. Even our buildings are now getting factory-produced, shipped, assembled.

But mostly, it made me think about cooking.

There are no shortage of off-the-shelf, ready-to-cook meals. They save us time. Often they even save us money.

But nobody will argue that what comes out of the box tastes better than a home-cooked meal, made with love.

I've tried to keep that metaphor in mind, as I slog through work I could absolutely just hand off to Google in exchange for everyone's privacy. Or layouts and looks I'd never have to tweak and tweak if I just used an off-the-shelf library that tracked folk's visits.

But then I think of the fresh, hot food in Thailand, ingredients straight from the markets. Of the long-simmering onions, caramelized to perfection in France. Of perfect eggplants, sizzling on the Okonomiyaki plate in Japan. And I know it'll all be worth it.

That yes, the world is getting faster and faster.
But good things - still take time. :)

Have a home-cooked week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was on point, and so inspiring. It's about a grandmother who learned to code at 81 years old - to make video games for her friends. :)

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