Wide Awake Developers

Software Eats the World

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During this morning’s drive, I crossed several small overpasses. It reminded me that the American Society of Civil Engineers rated more than 20% of our bridges as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. That got me to thinking about how we even know how many bridges there are in a country as large as the U.S.

Some time in the past, it would require an army of people to go survey all the roads, looking for bridges and adding them to a ledger. Now, I’m sure it’s a query in a geographical database. The information had to be entered at least once, but now that it’s in the database we don’t need people to go wandering about with clicker counters.

Instead of clipboards and paper, the bridge survey needed data import from thousands of state and county GIS databases. That means coders to write the import jobs and DBAs to set up the target systems. It needed queries to count up the bridges and cross-check with inspection reports. So that requires more coders and maybe some UX designers for data visualization.

Back in 2011, Marc Andreessen said ”software is eating the world”. There’s no reason to think that’s going to slow down soon. And as software eats the world, work becomes tech work.