Friday, July 23, 2004

If the bolt fits:

Our extended family owns a cradle purchased at the 1851 Crystal Palace exposition in London. Its iron frame is secured by six enormous bolts. It is a tactile pleasure to screw each bolt into its perfectly fitting hole. The hand-made bolts are not interchangeable, the frame having been engineered by hand to match them. Today’s machine-made standard size nuts and bolts do not fit each other nearly so well, but they do the job. They are also cheaper and easier to replace. It’s a pity that today’s software industry hasn’t really embraced the idea that standard fittings are better than hand-crafted “perfect” fits. Software development is still in the mid-19th century.

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