Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland


One of the benefits of time is perspective. When you’re writing or coding, letting the work rest for a day or two usually lets you review it with a fresh perspective revealing its flaws as obvious. This goes beyond the usual recuperative effect of rest. Just a night’s sleep won’t do the job. You need to let time remove the proximity of what you were working on.

Employers never let you do this, as a rule, but anybody who has either read my book Out of the Software Crisis or my newsletter essays would know that modern software development teams are organised to prioritise control and productivity theatre over quality or genuine effectiveness.

Companies explicitly prefer feature development theatre and vanity metrics over making any of the software usable or reliable.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that letting a project rest and switch everybody to another for a while—one of the cheapest methods available for increasing the team’s productivity—never happens. Projects, like the Monty Python parrot, rest when they’re dead.

The only exception is vacation time, which lets individual employees come back refreshed, energised, and sharper, because of the added perspective, but Anglophone companies do precious little of that. European companies differ. Not out of choice. It’s a productivity boon that they were forced to accept by labour unions, but however it came about, they benefit.

Freelancers or consultants, like me, often end up having to behave like Anglophone companies do, and we drive ourselves into the ground because, unlike organisations with multiple employees, there’s nothing to keep the concern going when we’re on a break.

But, you have to, if you don’t want to burn out.

So, for the first time in a long, long while—over three years if you don’t count breaks forced by illness—I’ve been taking some time off.

No big plans. Just local travel, walks, and a lot of reading.

And, as I begin to wind down the vacation and ease back into work, bit by bit, I’m coming back with a perspective that I didn’t expect.

This shit is fucking boring.

Generative “AI” is just fucking boring.

  • The tech isn’t changing nearly as fast as you think. Most of it is just an endless parade of cookie-cutter services or “open” language model clones. It’s an army of “same” marching in infinite lockstep.
  • The output is so mediocre and uninspiring that if it were a person, it’d say that LinkedIn was “exciting”, its favourite colour would be beige, and it’d think that Tom Cruise is “sexy”. It’d be the sort of cook who says that oregano is “spicy”. Yes, that includes the “improved” garbage you’re getting from recent versions of Midjourney.
  • The people involved are some of the most culturally and creatively clueless people on the planet.

The only thing that isn’t boring about generative “AI” is the harm tech companies and their spineless hangers on seem intent on inflicting on our society and economy: replacing the variety of human creative work with the tedious sameness of synthetic work in the name of “productivity” or, worse, “cost”.

You people manage to simultaneously frighten and bore me, which would be a novel sensation if I let it linger, but that would—you guessed it—be boring. I’ve managed to keep up my interest by focusing on the risks and figuring out how the statistical illusion of intelligence probably works, but even though the pro-AI crowd is remarkably creative when it comes to inventing new ways of harming society through sheer volume of unutterably bad ideas, that becomes repetitive after a while.

At some point the only thing you can say is that you should absolutely be avoiding this shit, if you can, and if you can’t, you should do some research into mitigating the harm done.

(My book can help you, but it’s my strongest recommendation that you just avoid using generative models if you can and save those $35 for something that actually adds value to your life. But, if you have to use these models, absolutely do use my book as an overview of the risks to your work and business and try to mitigate them.)

This is a problem for me because a big part of my job, currently, is to write about issues that are affective software and product development and generative models are a big part of what’s happening. But, I have never been able to motivate myself to work on anything I find boring. My productivity declines into nothingness.

I’ve learned that the most effective thing for me to do is to ignore boring topics and focus on writing that interests me. I’m not likely to be able to write about productive uses of this technology since how most of it’s being developed is outright offensive.

I need to figure out an angle for writing on software development that is both interesting to me and useful to my audience. The break has helped somewhat. It’s given me a couple of ideas I’d like to pursue.

But, the overwhelming feeling is that of being bored.

Fucking hell is this shit tedious.

You can also find me on Mastodon and Bluesky