The Gluster Blog

Gluster blog stories provide high-level spotlights on our users all over the world

Peacocks, Ferraris, and Gradle


One time someone asked me why I liked build tools so much.  Here is why.

The answer is : because nobody else does. Its like the same reason why my wife is passionate about what kind of crib the kids get.  Its because I’m not.   You see this type of feedback/response gating alot in science and in life.  Build engineering is boring work. But it allows us to do interesting stuff with less tedium.  When you do more interesting stuff, with less tedium, you have a higher likliehood of doing something cool, because you have more time to actually use your brain for creative work, rather than grunt work.

Is my fascination with build tools a perversion of an otherwise useful instinct? 

I suspect that there were cavemen, a long time ago, who became passionate about some very useful things.  Like Fire ! Some caveman came along one day, and realized EVERYONE had their own crappy ways of cobbling a fire together… And that caveman said : lets come up with a protocol for this damn thing !

Once we had a systematic way of building fires – we could spend more time innovating with fire, and less time trying to start fires.  This allowed us to do cool stuff : like build weapons and cook medium rare steaks.

If a caveman obsessed over fire : how to make it, how to curate it – he would have been a very useful friend to have. 

BUT there is a downside to this.  Talking about gradle all the time annoys people.  Sometimes mattf and willb make fun of me for talking about it so much.

Lesson learned ? Every once in a while, certain traits get exaggerated.  And what happens next?  The peacock phenomenon. 

Peacocks exhibit an extreme form of evolving a specific trait, to the point that the trait actually has diminished value.   This is called runaway evolution. 

Suddenly you are a peacock.  You’ve taken a healthy obsession, and taken it to an extreme.  Pretty feathers USED TO say something about your genetic dispostion.  Now they are just a mechanism for competing with other birds that have pretty feathers.  And you might actually be very unhealthy, because you’ve evolved to maximize your feather color at the cost of other important metabolic systems.


Why?  I’m not sure.  Maybe some day they will be.    Runaway evolution is pretty powerful and probably only gets reigned in when volcanoes erupt or comets hit the ground.

So I figured out a secret about humanity:  People become passionate about things when they see there is a need for them.  But sometimes they get too excited?

Somehow, this instinct can get perverted.  For example, some people are passionate about ferraris, and clearly, there is no real super important feedback look that justifies our fascination Ferraris.

Or maybe there is?  I just don’t know what it is yet.  Maybe status symbols allow us to enforce hierarchies which bring order to society.

Am I too excited about gradle?  Only time will tell.



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