Tuesday, August 15, 2006


DLL Hell

Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century.
Suppose we take Cahn's analogy to its logical conclusion. Computer programs evolve over time. Before the web, new versions of software were packaged and sent to retailers so lengthy testing before release was important. In the mid-90s, it became typical for software to be distributed online. The cost of releasing a fix was drastically reduced, so software cycle times were reduced to be competitive, but releases were still at discrete intervals. The dawn of web applications saw real time patches to code.

Updates to the code running on top of the social operating system occur much less frequently, but they must still adapt to the environment around them. Just like your Windows desktop programs have had to deal with DLL Hell, so do the programs running on the social operating system. However, these programs (e.g. money) are, as Jacques Le Goff might say, deeply rooted and slowly changing.

Sometimes, when code is updated, it breaks other code. For instance, back in the good old Windows 9x days, DLL Hell was when a program upgrade modified a library it shared with another program. The other program would magically stop working.

The same thing can happen when the code to money is updated. Charging interest on loans was slowly added to the code. Unfortunately, this update broke the religion code which excommunicated members of the social operating system who charged interest. The code had already been shipped, so to speak, so, in the 13th Century, the religion code was patched with an innovation called purgatory.

Related: Google and the Eternal Life Fantasy

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