A Very Conditional Defense of Tire Fires

Published 2016-06-07

Some unfinished thoughts follow.

I hold the opinion that better is better than worse, and that the betterness and worseness of things like programming languages, libraries, and frameworks is, while often context dependent, and not a single value, still often an observable thing.

There is a very common view that seems to be in an impossible to pin down superposition between worse actually being better than better, a misunderstanding of the adage that only a poor crafstman blames their tools1. It is commonly used to mean that good tools are somehow a luxury that a good craftsman does not need at all - and so, if poor tools impede your work, you must be a poor craftsman. So, this is a very conditional defense ...

  1. The adage is supposed to mean that a good craftsman will, upon discovering they have poor tools, either fix their tools, acquire good tools, or in extremis refuse to work with the poor tools3.
  2. Though, actual evil is not okay. For example, a simple Wordpress install will probably be hacked in minutes, and then that machine will be used to serve ransomware and perform DDoSes. This cannot be excused by simply saying 'my boss signed off on us hurting lots of innocent people'.
  3. This is a thing that was much more tractable with cottage industries. I, and many others, have burned years of our lives trying to fix some of the tools we work with.

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