03/07/2003

I just read an interesting article about why the internet is stupid. To quote:

“The Internet is stupid. On purpose. Its designers made sure the biggest, most inclusive network of them all was dumb as a box of rocks.

The Internet doesn’t know lots of things a smart network like the phone system knows: Identities, permissions, priorities, etc. The Internet only knows one thing: this bunch of bits needs to move from one end of the Net to another.

There are technical reasons why stupidity is a good design. Stupid is sturdy. If a router fails, packets route around it, meaning that the Net stays up. Thanks to its stupidity, the Net welcomes new devices and people, so it grows quickly and in all directions. It’s also easy for architects to incorporate Net access into all kinds of smart devices – camcorders, telephones, sprinkler systems –┬áthat live at the Net’s ends.

That’s because the most important reason Stupid is Good has less to do with technology and everything to do with value.”

I think that’s very true, and also very smart (ha). I actually try to incorporate that principle into a lot of the work I do– web applications, in general, should be built for people who are NOT very web savvy. They should have interfaces that are simple and straightforward. They should do what you’d expect them to do. They should tell you when you do something wrong, in terms that are easy to understand.

Too bad not everyone thinks stupid is smart.

(with credit to Doc Searls and David Weinberger, World of Ends)