Lanier Interview

Coding from Scratch: A Conversation with Virtual Reality Pioneer Jaron Lanier

…if you make a small change to a program, it can result in an enormous change in what the program does. If nature worked that way, the universe would crash all the time. Certainly there wouldn’t be any evolution or life. There’s something about the way complexity builds up in nature so that if you have a small change, it results in sufficiently small results; it’s possible to have incremental evolution…But in software, there’s a chaotic relationship between the source code…and the observed effects of programs…

What advice do you have for developers just starting out?

There’s a lot I would say. If you’re interested in user interfaces, there’s a wonderful opportunity these days to push what a user interface can be. If a user interface gives a user some degree of power, try to figure out if you can give the user more power, while still keeping it inspiring and easy to use. Can you do it? For instance, could you design a search engine that would encourage people to do more complex searches than they can do on a service like Google today, but still do them easily? I haven’t seen a really good visual interface, for instance, for setting up searches on Google. Could you do that? Could you suddenly make masses of people do much more specific and effective searches than they currently are doing just by making a better user interface?