Over the past week, I have seen repeated assertions that one of the problems with the exchange website is that it was "built with ten year-old technology." This culminated for me with a commentator on MSNBC quipping, "If it's 10 year-old technology, why don't they get an over-caffeinated team of 20 year-olds to build a new one...with current technology?"
I think it's important to distinguish between technologies and methodologies that are "old" versus those that have been discredited and abandoned. This is a great scary sound bite for people who want to mock the site, but denouncing "10 year-old technology" out of hand sounds ignorant and naive to anyone with significant experience. I want to reply, "Yeah, the problem is that they were using 10 year-old tech instead of 20 year-old tech!"
Java is 18.
Python is 22.
Ruby is 18.
Even some "hot new" things are pretty old! If you're making a "current, modern" iPhone app, you're going to do it using Objective-C, which is THIRTY this year!!! And let's don't even talk about Lisp and Smalltalk!
Now if they were using something that's old AND declining (or worse, moribund or contraindicated) that's definitely worthy of derision, but the mere fact of age is hardly disqualifying.
We typically think of telescopes as the tools of astronomy. While they are central to modern astronomy, telescopes are a relatively modern tool. We typically consider Galileo as the founder of telescopic astronomy in the early 1600s, but observational astronomy has a much longer history.
The oldest portable device that was clearly intended for astronomical observation is the Nebra sky disk. It was discovered in Germany in 1999, and is dated to 1600 BCE. By that time observational techniques had become relatively sophisticated. There are ancient observatories all over the world. Astronomy is something humans have done for about as long as we’ve been human.
Before telescopes, much of astronomy was focused on determining and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon and planets. This requires not only sophisticated mathematics, but also precise measurements of their location in the sky at certain times. Often this was done by determining the position of the Sun or Moon at the horizon. The earliest known observatory capable of such measurements is the Goseck circle, dating to 4500 BCE. This consisted of a series of concentric ditches with wooden posts to determine positions. Less ancient (2400 BCE) but more famous is Stonehenge (pictured below http://goo.gl/noC1gH), which used stones and wooden posts to determine astronomical positions.
Over the centuries astronomical measurements became more sophisticated, but the need to measure positions and angles remained central to astronomy. The ancient Greeks developed the astrolabe around 200 BCE which in its early form consisted of a stick on a disk that could be pivoted to align with a star or planet.
In the 1200s, Maragheh observatory was constructed in what is modern Iran. It consisted of a circular stone building four-stories tall, and was the largest observatory of its day. In the 1400s the Beijing ancient observatory was built. Several bronze instruments built for the observatory in the 1600s are still there today. In the 1500s, European astronomers used large quadrants built against north-south aligned walls in order to make precise measurements of stellar positions. The most famous of these is Tycho’s mural quadrant.
For thousands of years the tools of astronomy were sticks and stones. Simple tools for making careful observations. Alignments and angles, motion and time. Only in the last four centuries did we add glass.
By then we knew very well how things moved in the sky. With glass we could finally start to understand why.
- University of ArkansasCISO, 2008 - present
- Engineering Institute
- Rainbow Technologies
- InfoSec Labs
I'm CISO at the University of Arkansas, so I think a lot about Information Security. I also think about how information flows from humans to computers, between computers, and back to humans. There are a lot of inefficiencies in that flow, and I think that's one of the primary reasons that information technology hasn't yet made our lives better.
I'm a strong proponent of open systems and free software (a.k.a. open source software). I believe that I should be in control of my computer and the data on it, and that control extends to any environment that I use, local or cloud-based.
I'm very interested in emerging technologies, and the possibilities of cloud infrastructure, especially self-hosted clouds in micro data centers.
I think that good Internet identity concepts lead to better communication and collaboration, while preserving privacy.
When I'm not occupied by all of the above, I sometimes like to go fly a plane. I haven't done it in years due to the rising cost of aircraft rentals, but flight is amazing. I read a lot. I occasionally write something interesting. I take care of my family, and I think about the future.
LONGEST TOWN NAME... EVAR!!! (LLanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerych...)
This is a video response to Jory Caron, but you can learn, too, or laugh, or think I'm weird. Whatever. Jory's video:// http://www.youtube.c
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