It happens that things breaks down. Let’s take a toy as sample – if you know a bit of electronics you can play with it and finally fix – if it’s not a big deal. Same happen with furnitures when you can take a screwdriver and fix it quickly. And there is much more things I can enumerate where with a bit of knowledge you can repair them by yourself.
As I’m software engineer – it would probably means that I can easily repair any software I have bought and it finally failed. And you know what? That should really be a case – but unfortunately it’s not. This kind of thoughts came to my mind recently when I started to learn electronics just to make this world less magical for myself. Let’s think about that, why software is different, why I cannot just fix it?
One of the examples helping to understand would be modern cars – they are so complex and so packed with electronics that’s it not easy thing to fix them nowadays! But again, if you are let’s say Skoda’s specialist and you know much about those cars – you probably would play with a car and repair it right? Once you bought it you can do anything with it right?
But this is not a case with software. You buy (usually, I’m not saying about open source products for now 😉 the software, and when it breaks down you have to count on provider to distribute fix/patch/whatever. Software is usually closed, you cannot see parts of it from which it was created – like with the car. You cannot easily take part by part to reconstruct it. Of course, there is a way to do that with machine language, but the complexity of it grows hugely and good specialist would spend quite meaningful time in locating issue and fixit it – in comparison that task is much easier to solve having sources?
So, as we pay for something and own it, why we do not have it fully owned? By buying closed product (not open source) we build this unhealthy relation to the provider, of being dependent whenever something goes wrong, even if we have enough knowledge to fix it.
The other thing is, that as software is everywhere – would that be worth of the effort to fix all the bugs by yourself? That would be quite big amount of work right? Just consider fact that on my Android phone every week I install lots of updates and when I look on them I just see – bug fixes … 🙂
All in all it’s quite scare that we as the society allows on buying something which is broken, broken but still useful enough to make us wishing to pay for it – magic of software 🙂