in Development, Editorial

Version Freedom

I was sitting in a bar the other night, listing to some live music and having a beer, when it hit me. We (software developers) are really quite lucky. In most cases, we have the luxury of sending out bug fixes and updates without much thought. Sure, there is often some inconvenience to the user that I touched on in my post about ‘the software update problem‘, but for the most part, you’re just improving an existing product so rarely people will complain.

But other ‘artists’ or ‘product creators’, don’t really have the same freedom. As I sat in that bar and heard this guy performing, it hit me – a musician only gets to publish a song once. Sure, they can perform it live differently, but really, when a song is published along with it’s music video, it’s stuck that way. The musician may later realise that a couple of the lyrics don’t really make sense or a specific chorus may sound better using a different chord, but by then it’s too late.

They don’t get a second chance.

It’s the same for most other artists. A painter only gets to finish their painting once. A writer or poet may get to publish multiple editions of their book but for the most part, not much will change.

This makes for quite a lot of pressure on the creator. Can you imagine only being allowed to publish your website just the once? Even if you had the same freedom as the writer and were allowed to push out a ‘revised edition’ once every couple years, it’d still be logistical nightmare.

Software is different. Software provides the freedom to iterate and improve everything we do. To take risks and later pivot in a completely different direction and reimagine our primary focus.

So remember that next time you’re listing to a song or admiring a painting. They managed to get it right the first time – while you get the chance to fix it, forever.

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