we've come a long way baby!


Richard Hamming - Discreet Systems


We're nearing the end of the analog world. Electrical currents have become sampled information converted into digits and transmitted this way. It's much easier to send and deal with this kind of stream than an analog one across long distances, etc.

The integrated chip has reduced cost and complexity, and increased reliability over old tube circuits by a crazy wide margin.

We're moving from a manufacturing society, to an information society. If you exclude the military, there are more government employees than there are people making things in factories. We have more people managing than doing.


We've moved from hand fabrication (screws, bolts, nuts) to machine fabrication (rivets, welding). When you want to build an organization that incorporates machines, you need to ask "What are the fundamental things I'm trying to accomplish? How do I accomplish it with machines?" The attempt to do things the way humans have always done things has produced disasters in attempts to mechanize things. You must use your imagination to get the kind of fundamental result you want.

Computing vs labs

In a rapidly changing experiment, it's very hard to observe the fine details. Computers enable this and have led to keener information. Computers offer enormous flexibilty of experimentation and design, which means that iteration will be a more prominent feature of engineering.

Managers tend to believe that if they only knew what was going on, they'd know what to do. The effect of this micromanaging is bad: the person who knows what's going on is often the person on the ground doing the job. The person at HQ doesn't really know the details or want to know, but makes the decisions. Central planning is full of failures, but local planning has its faults too. The great evil of micromanagement is that it's a failure to bring forward people to replace them. Leave the people alone to make mistakes and learn from them where it won't do so much harm.

But there's a trend against this: computers are enabling companies to be smaller and cut out the fat of management.

The power of computers to change the way we live is almost infinite. Bounded only by laws really, the sky's the limit.


Given a single computer, you'll believe the world is made out of molecules and a certain size.

Things are going to change more rapidly than in the past, and probably to the edge of what people can stand. Change is painful, and hard to take back. Respect habits, but field/pilot test changes to make sure they'll work/stick.

You are responsible for what you believe. What works in one generation, does not necessarily work in another generation.