Innovation and Consensus

Last week I got to check out 2 javascript frontend frameworks, Choo (the cute framwework) and Cycle.js (the streams power). It feels that nowadays React is eating the frontend world, but there is actually a lot of non-marginal alternatives. It made me think that there is something tricky with the process of innovation. It is born from disagreement. It feeds with discontent.

Those frameworks are born from the refusal to consider React as a consensus, hence it generates an alternative path, exploring different paradigms. In my opinion, and from an global point of view, it’s a sign of vivacity of an ecosystem. Diversity of species guarantees a larger span of choice for the natural selection and a faster evolution.

But consensus and normative approaches have so many virtues. Damn, this is tricky. Well, here is the catch. Unicity in the software ecosystem creates stability, which in turn creates comfort for the actors involved in the industry. Habits get stronger, mobility is easier, interoperability leads to bigger systems with long life-cycles. This is good.

On another hand diversity creates instability, challenges the developers and makes it harder to find common grounds. It favors exploration and smaller systems with shorter life-cycles. In a diverse ecosystem, paradigms and new ideas are born and die quickly. And I think it’s a much more rich ecosystem.

For some reason this duality reminds me of the cathedral and the bazaar. It’s totally unrelated, actually, but maybe there is some kind of interesting parallel in this metaphor collision. But beyond that, there is a real antagonism for developers, and an opposing interest between the development workforce and the software as a living species.

And I have the feeling that on the long run, diversity and innovation win. So you better get used to the discomfort it brings. Train yourself to jump from one framework to another. Don’t let yourself getting lazy by going to the comfortable consensus systematically. This ability to cope with change is your best hope for staying current. Because the change if the way of the evolution.

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