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    This is a fascinating piece of writing which I agree with in general direction but abhor in specific. In particular, the author takes an entirely regressive tack when discussing the trajectory of the development of computing.

    no one was lifting the most centrally important functional objects in our lives into the domain of beauty. The practice of these long-gone artisans had disappeared.

    Has it, though? Certainly there are techniques for building beautiful objects that are lost, but modern-day artisans still make beautiful weapons, from swords and armor to bows and firearms. The practice of creating beautiful things is not gone; rather, the Met’s Arms and Armor gallery discussed by the author is the collected, filtered product of nearly every armorer in the world from as early as 1300 BCE to today. Of course the things we see in our everyday lives do not meet that standard.

    The author parlays this mistaken idea into a generalized sentiment that there is no such thing as a beautiful computer today, but of course, there absolutely is. Even in the author’s own conception of a beautiful computer as a heavily restricted one, there is a thriving community of artisans building some constrained computers of various aesthetics. There’s even prior art for beautifully woodworked machines. And that’s just portables - if we get into desktop machines, there’s a whole world of form-over-function (or form-beside-function) designs out there, from the 1970s to the vast diversity of PC case mods or scratch fabs, including many wooden examples.

    The other problem I have is the essentialization of Western culture and Japanese culture. I think it does a disservice to the essential criticism here: we build too much cheap shit that doesn’t look nice or work well, and we should build more thing that do what people want and need, look good, and are easy to maintain. The solution is not to eschew networking, software other than a text editor, and so forth. The solution is to build a society that allows people to spend time producing art without fearing they’ll be out on the street because the thing they’re building isn’t profitable.

    The woodworking is indeed beautiful, but as I’ve written before, I prefer the vision of another Japan-opinion-haver (William Gibson) in the direction of coral and turquoise.

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      I don’t think you have to limit “regressive” to the history of computing in particular when the author namechecks Oswald Spengler!

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        Oof, missed that one. Yikes. 🥴

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          I don’t have the cultural reference to really understand how that should be understood.

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            La Wik:

            Spengler is regarded as a nationalist and an anti-democrat, and he was a prominent member of the Weimar-era Conservative Revolution. Although he had voted for Hitler over Hindenburg in the 1932 German presidential election and the Nazis had viewed him as an ally to provide a “respectable pedigree” to their ideology,[4] he later criticized Nazism due to its excessive racialist elements, which led to him and his work being sidelined in his final years. He saw Benito Mussolini, and entrepreneurial types, like the mining magnate Cecil Rhodes,[5] as examples of the impending Caesars of Western culture…

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              Thanks a lot for the reference. Now, I don’t see how I should interpret this in regard to the text. Is it a joke? A simple cultural reference? Or something else more cringe?

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      Starts off pretentious and goes to the moon. Pretty woodworking, though.

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        I was that age once. I thought I knew it all.

        Time has certainly humbled me.

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          Modern software engineering is rotten. I should know — it’s been my livelihood since I graduated from college in late 2019.

          Yeah sheesh.

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            tbf he’s about the same age I was when I first discovered formal methods, so sometimes 25-yo energy leads to good things when you age a bit

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        More insecurity over the fact things are impermanent and made to function, not form. Maybe that’s OK though.

        I get the feeling there is a big undercurrent of Sketchy Off-Topic Opinions™ permeated this article though.

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          I love the aesthetic of that computer - it has influenced my thinking on how I plan to build a personal terminal - but I hate the reactionary-elitist tone of this manifesto. I’d rather see beautiful computers inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, much more egalitarian. I do agree with ~mtset that the cyberdeck and related scenes are making beautiful computers.

          I’ve been thinking about heirloom computers, too, actually, partly because of #Marchintosh events. If I could pick one computer design as an heirloom, it would be the Mac SE/30. Great industrial design, very decent but constrained computing capabilities. While completely obsolete today, it still can do the vast majority of the things you want a computer to do, excluding 3D games and the modern WWW. It feels like a classic.