2012-03-09

Steve Jobs vs. Pragmatism

I finished the Steve Jobs biography yesterday. I can't say it changed my life but it sure provides a lot of clarity.

Without going into details, I identify pretty strongly with Jobs' character but I also have a good dose of Woz in me. Maybe I'm more like what Bill Gates would have been if, as Jobs suggested, he dropped acid or spent time in an ashram.

My main issue with Job's design philosophy is that I prefer open systems. I want to open the case, change the battery, write my own code. But I wonder if I am limiting myself by insisting on openness. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I wonder if I am wasting chunks of my creative energy dealing with openness I don't really need.

I wonder if I am really experiencing any true "openness" by accepting crappy design. I use a PC partly because of the price. My desktop outperforms a current-generation Mac Pro (I only have four hyper-threading cores, not twelve but my disk subsystem smokes the Mac Pro) and it cost less than $1000. I use Windows largely because of ESRI ArcGIS. My field is so dominated by this one player that it's almost impossible to collaborate without using ArcGIS.

If I switched to a Mac, I would spend less time worrying about the relative performance of my system or upgrading crappy software. Instead, I probably would spend more time writing Python code. That's really where my creativity is best focused. And what's more "open" than Python code, especially if it's easier to not use ESRI's Python modules?

I have always tried to be "platform agnostic", letting pragmatism be my guide. Maybe it's time to try a slightly less pragmatic approach and see where it takes me.

1 comment:

Pranesh Udhayamani said...

"I would spend less time worrying about the relative performance of my system or upgrading crappy software. Instead, I probably would spend more time writing Python code." :) by the way what do you program in phyton? how do you use it?