Wrong place for the right diatribe

Posted on github profile. About my beliefs in software:

I'm a hobbyist programmer, love to learn and improve. I've gravitated toward small tools that deliver unique utility, then bury that utility in flavor and inconsequential content.

Most software, pretty or not, lacks a voice. This is an absolute fact. Across many domains, big or small, consequential software (on the desktop, websites, mobile apps, tools, engines, firmware, networks, services) cleave functionality from personality.

Personality includes visual decoration, but goes further. A domain you tend to see personality in is game design. That makes sense, because video games are: interactive processes where meaningless actions are wrapped in arbitrary content, imbuing actions with ideas to entertain, provoke thought, and provoke emotion.

Video games are ultimately distractionware—nothing against Terry Cavanagh!—they're fun, but I said it above, their basic mechanical actions are meaningless. I’m not that interested in making games.

In the history of digital design, I see the span of time from the dotcom boom to the pandemic being the rock bottom of craft at the modern forefront of utility objects. Design makes me think of a table and chairs, or an article of clothing. Like with mass manufacturing, handicraft is lost in the pursuit of practical software design.

People do love personal websites. That has been a notable location of personality for decades. I am not making a case that solutions are getting carpal tunnel from handwriting html, or limiting your design skills to figma and webflow. Branded experiences may have personality, but are made hollow by their aspects all needing to serve commerce. Toys and visualizations are a middle ground, a case can be made for meaning in their utility. I do think that beyond these instances, I've started to have my interests piqued in recent years. In the weird browser I currently use, copying the URL makes blue cubes float around the corner of the screen. Why?! Decor. Now, become personal.

My belief that inspires me to do code, is that personality and utility should be separate and always consuming each other. Boundaries on usefulness don't inhibit creativity.

Personality in software should constrain the user, and press on the user. It should mean decoration, and obfuscation, and where text is present, it should create a conversation with the user. Software should fade and die. Most importantly (as I see it, because it's what I see the least of), the subjects of software personalities shouldn't have to couple with the content of their utility. My favorite part of personality is the oblique.