But, this isn’t an issue that’s specific to programming or software development. It’s an issue that plagues the entire tech industry.
In Alan Kay’s words:
In a later interview, he adds:
The symptoms of pop culture:
A “disdain for history”. Pop cultures believe history doesn’t have anything to teach them.
Newer is automatically better. Pop cultures are built on the assumption that anything new or different is superior to established. Or, in other words, older is inherently inferior.
What’s next is going to be superior to what’s now. Pop cultures exist in perpetual anticipation of the next trend. Their disbelief of history appears to outsiders as a belief in progress.
The “Pop” in “Pop Culture” stands for “popularity”. If it’s popular then it must be right.
These traits are deeply irrational but they are the tech industry’s default mode of operation.
A recent example of a pop culture trend taking tech by storm is layoffs. Every tech company is laying people off, even those whose financials are in good shape. But, as Jeffrey Pfeffer explains in this interview, these are decisions driven entirely by pop culture—‘social contagion’ to use his words:
These layoffs are not rational: they are almost always bad decisions.
The only way to win is to not participate. Don’t chase trends. Don’t copy your competitors. Evaluate strategies, tools, and technologies on their own merits. Look at how they affect your organisation, systems, products and markets.
Don’t let the industry’s pop culture drag you into making poor decisions.