Scientists and engineers

I have vast amounts of respect for scientists and what they do. They have built an industry that pays them to do fun things like think up new things and argue about the futures of existing things.

Interestingly, though, their industry insulates them from some of the pressures that cause non-scientists to do imperfect things in the short term that might solve a problem well enough to create tremendous amounts of value for everyday people doing everyday things (even if the solution comes with its own new problems).

Today, I saw one of the most poignant examples of this phenomenon that I have ever seen (from Tim Bray’s XML People blog article):

So Tim Berners-Lee built a hypertext that worked across the Internet. Lots of computer scientists had been chiseling away at the problem for years, but Tim Berners-Lee ignored the entire body of theory and pasted together the simplest possible version with one-way pointers carrying no guarantees of what (if anything) they pointed at. No computer scientist could have conceived of anything so tenuous and fragile.

And thus was born the World Wide Web as we know it today.

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