Pushing forward

With the Arduino movement fully underway and unlikely to lose steam, there is something to be said about how the world was before it.

Revolutionary ideas take things that were once hard and distill them into safe, guided, and easy experiences.

Some of the more experienced scoff at projects like Arduino because at the core, they eat into hard knowledge bought with time. A computer scientist might be a bit miffed if tomorrow they would be somewhat replaced by clever self-optimizing algorithms (pending the submission of a million dollar proof, of course).

Before Arduino, building an AVR breakout board from a knowledge base of zero would have required knowing even beginning electronics lingo (by asking such inane questions like: “what is ground?”) to finally making the selection of AVR over PIC, ARM, FPGAs and otherwise.

A beginner doesn’t really need to understand the innate difference between a crystal and a resonator (the crystal has better quality), or why one is needed in the first place (its used as a sort of heartbeat for microchips).

This is often why hard problems remain hard, and why few people tackle them. Smart (and rich) people remove irrelevancies like these.

Good projects that change the world have this embedded in them as a core value (distilling hard problems) and have become wildly successful because they pander to the masses, and not exclusively to the experts.

Ubuntu for instance, became synonymous with “Linux” on several forums because it was a great entry-level distribution.

Ruby on Rails for quite some time has been the de-facto web framework, and arguably ushered in MVC as a mainstream way of doing web development. Its framework and “opinionated” way of doing things made web development less boilerplate and more manageable.

Knocking down barriers is something that can be done with nearly all that is hard in every field: Mathematics, Biology, Teaching, and Engineering.

While brain ‘trusts’ are nice and elite, drawing many smart people to a field and having them stay is more valuable to society as a whole.

Here is to the next framework, or hard problem solver that makes a massive splashdown on a problem once ruled solely by experts. Things can only get more interesting as people figure out how to craftily exploit making hard things easy. Because problems only get more interesting.