When you have something in the world that people are using, making changes becomes hard. With any moderately-sized codebase, a lot of software engineering becomes finding a good compromise with complexity—plugging in your change at the appropriate level of depth for the existing system, rather than making the perfect solution. It’s a job of politics: leaving most stakeholders unsatisfied but a little more satisfied than they were before. This can be a tough pill to swallow when you know what it’s like to populate a blank canvas with your brain child. When the field is wide open, the solution is easy—there aren’t any rules for what you can do. But when there’s history, the foundation blocks aren’t so easily removed. As a creator, you really want to design a system from first principles, but in reality, a lot of the systems that we have to work in already service so many people that you can’t start from scratch. You have to find a way to move forward, towards that utopian goal while transitioning the wider constituency appropriately.
There are many radical perspectives that advocate for starting from a completely blank slate to save the world from demise, whether it be culling the population, razing existing governments, or leaving our atmosphere in search of a fresh start. There are also many tactical, but unimaginary solutions that try to compromise too much to the point that the end goal is such a marginal improvement from the status quo that all the pain to get there feels like a waste. Why can’t we make those radical, utopian demands for our existing systems and societies?
Why don’t we look at how we modify capitalism to prize humans over profits, or how social media can be leveraged to facilitate intimacy with a greater diversity of people than our local network?
We can be radical while also caring about bringing along all the people and things we care about. Let’s promote radical migrations of our current state rather than radical exoduses.
This is the 63rd installment in my experiment of publishing raw, lightly edited mini-essays every day towards achieving 100 public pieces. Check out the rationale and the full list here.