Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Google Plus's Demise Impacts Software Development

I didn't think much about it when Google announced in late 2018 "sunsetting the consumer version of Google+." Although I had a Google+ account, I didn't really use it and didn't think I'd miss it. Although I had recognized that the demise of other online resources (Google Code in 2015, Codehaus in 2015, GeoCities in 2009, Google's Knol in 2012, Dr. Dobb's in 2014) would impact my ability as a software developer to access previously published online material, I didn't consider that this could be the case for Google+. Although some of the resources mentioned earlier have left read-only content in place, it appears that Google+ content has already been removed.

The "consumer (personal) version of Google+" was shut down in early April of this year and I ran into my first link that now points only to mention of "Google+ is no longer available for consumer (personal) and brand accounts" rather than to the original content available there. The article I was attempting to read was Jean-Baptiste 'JBQ' Quéru's 2011 post "Dizzying but invisible depth."

The "Dizzying but invisible depth" post is one that that I highly recommend because it describes well how too many layers of abstraction eventually make it difficult or impossible for any one person or even any one team to understand how the entire system works. Here is one paragraph from that post:

Once you start to understand how our modern devices work and how they're created, it's impossible to not be dizzy about the depth of everything that's involved, and to not be in awe about the fact that they work at all, when Murphy's law says that they simply shouldn't possibly work.

After spending a couple of minutes trying to find an alternate version of this post, I decided to spend my time using the Wayback Machine (Internet Archive) to access the post. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine has been useful to me before and it was again this time. I was able to find a snapshot of the "Dizzying but invisible depth" post. I saved a copy of it this time.

The post I referenced here was available on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and may be available from some other site. However, there may be other software development related resources previously hosted on Google+ that are no longer available. This is a reminder to me of the fragility of online resources. Because of this fragility, I try to save at least the links to articles and posts of interest to me so that I have a chance of accessing the article or post via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine if the original site goes away. In the case of particularly useful posts and articles, I will sometimes go as far as saving it to a PDF for future reference.

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