Lunduke’s Theory of Computer Mockery — no technology is sacred

The more important the technology, the more ruthlessly and brutally it will be mocked.

amiga 1000 connected to an apple iigs hosted bbs via telnet9
Blake Patterson from Alexandria, VA, USA (CC BY 2.0)

“Any sufficiently popular, or important, computer technology will be mercilessly mocked 20 years later.” 

I call that Lunduke’s Theory of Computer Mockery. (Yes, I named it after myself. Because… why not?)

The more important the technology, the more ruthlessly and brutally it will be mocked. It helps if the technology was, itself, a bit flawed when new. But even when a piece of tech is well received initially, 20 years later it will be fully brutalized. 

Let’s take a look at some examples: 

Windows 95 

Would you use Windows 95 in 2017? Of course not. Would you make fun of it without regard for its feelings? Of course you would. 

Maybe Windows 95 was flawed, but does it deserve the mockery it gets? Probably not. Doesn’t matter, though. Twenty years on, it’s fair game. 

The dial-up BBS 

The first dial-up Bulletin Board System (BBS), CBBS, which literally stands for Computer Bulletin Board System, was created in 1978 by Ward Christensen. 

By 1998? Yeah, you made fun of BBSes. You know you did. 

The internet was here in force. People were using web browsers. The text-mode BBS of Ye Olden Times had now turned into a punchline. 

GeoCities

What if there were a website that was at one point the third most-visited site in the world? What if that website went public and rose to a share price of over $100? What if that website offered web hosting to the masses (with over 38 million pages) and brought in over 177 million visitors every year? 

Well. We make fun of it. That’s what. 

GeoCities launched in 1994. By 2014, it was an already well-established source of humor for nerds far and wide. 

Truth be told, GeoCities was a bit ahead of schedule. It had firmly cemented itself as a source of guffaws several years earlier — closing down completely (other than in Japan) in 2009.

The server room suffers, too 

Nothing is safe from Lunduke’s Theory of Computer Mockery. Nothing.

Not even servers and data centers. 

Remember Novell NetWare

First released in 1983, NetWare was one of the first server operating systems that provided “file sharing” instead of “disk sharing.” Kind of a huge deal back then. 

It had multitasking (cooperative, but still multitasking). It worked with DOS and CP/M clients with a rather cool application that ran in the background (“Terminate and Stay Resident”). NetWare was, objectively, rather cool. It even had something similar to Microsoft’s Active Directory — nearly a decade before Microsoft. 

By 2003? Yeah. It had become the object of mockery by many nerds — leading to the company releasing a version of the services based on Linux not long after. 

There are no exceptions, not even Linux 

Right about now you might be thinking, “But computer tech XYX has been around longer than 20 years, and it’s still great!” 

Example: Linux. It’s more than 25 years old now. Yet we aren’t mocking it openly! 

Aha. Are you running Linux kernel 1.0? No? Do you make fun of screenshots of Linux desktops from 20 years ago? Yeah. You know you do.

There are no examples to be found, on any computer system around the world, that don’t fit within this theory. 

Except the Amiga. That machine was tight.

The clock is ticking 

Take a look around at the best and brightest technology of today. 

Server tech. Desktops. Processors. File systems. Applications. Protocols. In 20 years, people will be making fun of all of it. 

The more popular and/or important it is, the more merciless we’ll be about it.

Don’t even try to fight it. There’s already a named theory and everything.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Now read: Getting grounded in IoT