Invitation for technical discussion on next-generation Thunderbird (Semantic Desktop: AA vs. Groove++)

Paul Fernhout pdfernhout at
Sun Apr 30 16:56:12 UTC 2017

On 28.04.2017 09:49, Gervase Markham wrote:
> On 25/04/17 04:26, Paul D. Fernhout wrote:
>> The following is why I feel TB:NG should be designed to support 
>> billions
>> of messages of a wide variety of types.
> This really sounds like architecture astronautics.

Or you could perhaps more charitably call my hope for TG:NG as a sort of 
FOSS Groove++ plus more? :-)

Ironically, Joel Spolsky who popularized that "architecture 
astronautics" term used as his example unified messaging platforms like 
"When great thinkers think about problems, they start to see patterns. 
They look at the problem of people sending each other word-processor 
files, and then they look at the problem of people sending each other 
spreadsheets, and they realize that there’s a general pattern: sending 
files. That’s one level of abstraction already. Then they go up one more 
level: people send files, but web browsers also “send” requests for web 
pages. And when you think about it, calling a method on an object is 
like sending a message to an object! It’s the same thing again! Those 
are all sending operations, so our clever thinker invents a new, higher, 
broader abstraction called messaging, but now it’s getting really vague 
and nobody really knows what they’re talking about any more. Blah. When 
you go too far up, abstraction-wise, you run out of oxygen. Sometimes 
smart thinkers just don’t know when to stop, and they create these 
absurd, all-encompassing, high-level pictures of the universe that are 
all good and fine, but don’t actually mean anything at all. ... Then 
they’ll build applications like Groove that they think are more general 
than Napster, but which seem to have neglected that wee little feature 
that lets you type the name of a song and then listen to it — the 
feature we wanted in the first place. ..."

While Joel does make a good point on ungrounded thinking to the 
exclusion of in-the-trenches doing, there were some responses by people 
who see all that differently though, including the (then) makers of 

"Are the Groove Designers Architecture Astronauts?"

"The Case for Architecture Astronauts"

"Joel's favourite whipping boy, the "architecture astronaut"

--Paul Fernhout (
"The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies 
of abundance in the hands of those still thinking in terms of scarcity."

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