You might be wondering who this Mike Morris person is… For that I have a very quick (mostly work-focussed) bio page. <2 minute read. At one period in time I was widely known (in the very small pond that is South Africa’s tech industry) as “that Java guy”. Ancient history, now.
If we’re not having fun – at least over the long run – then what the hell are we doing here? The best way of all to have fun is doing stuff that makes life more fun for other people. This is the driver behind my long-running passion around human-computer interfaces: Computers are meant to be here to make our lives easier, not to entangle us in mazes of drudgery. How and why does that go wrong so much of the time?
Important, not Urgent
We’re surrounded by huge, hairy, monstrously difficult problems. We should be working on fixing those, not wasting some of the brightest energies of our time selling adverts. Climate change has been one of my main concerns since the 1970s. Let’s work on fixing that rather than spending our days trying to trick people into signing up for products they didn’t want in the first place. Let’s do something about fixing the half-arsed political systems most people live under. Let’s fix things so nobody needs to go hungry anywhere any more. Let’s get the plastic out of the oceans. Let’s stop worrying about what substances people want to ingest. Let’s stop harassing people over their sexual and gender identities. Let’s use our limited time more wisely.
If we don’t speak with honesty to one another, are we even having a conversation? It’s easy to speak honestly when it’s easy; when it is difficult to speak honestly is when we most need to, when it demands the most of our strength and integrity. If you can’t stick to your principles when they’re about to cost you a large sum of money, do you even have principles in the first place?
Here are some entry-points into the tangled thickets of this website, offered in the hope that they may give the reader some insight into my experience, expertise and professional interests as a means to estimate the overlap between my interests, their problems and our mutual opportunities.
Design: People, Process, Organisation
It is a truism common in the software design business that the architecture of an enterprise’s software will faithfully reflect the architecture of the organisation itself. Likewise, I believe, the insecurities of an organisation’s management will be reflected in the organisation’s work architecture. That’s why so many companies find it so very, very difficult to accomodate remote workers.
Design for Change
The sudden disruption of life brought on by the Covid-19 catastrophe forcible swatted us all from one way of going about things – the Old Stack – onto a new way: remote working, videoconf meetings, async communications, much-reduced travel. The New Stack. But the New (Tech) Stack wasn’t really ready for the whole world. It’s weak, wobbly, scales poorly in many ways… But: Is there any going back? Why would we want to? And how might we make the New Stack better fit for purpose?
(I am very, very interested in the structural changes that this global sideswipe — Covid-19 — has wrought. If, like me, you think that there will be no going back in the long run, we should definitely be talking!)
Money is an Interesting Problem. Not the Acquiring and Hoarding of money — that’s really quite boring — but what the stuff is, how it behaves and makes people behave and how those behaviours are influenced by the design details of different Money Systems.
Long ago I saw that the world might, perhaps, become a better place if we could just come up with King-Proof Money — some sort of money-system where the King (State/Sovereign) cannot arbitrarily expropriate what’s yours. Some 15 years later, something pretty close to that got invented. Bitcoin. I’d long harboured a sometime interest in cryptography and its mathematical underpinnings, and this looked interesting. It’s been a chequered path, so far, with many a winding turn, and Bitcoin is still hardly accepted as Money.
I do think that the underpinnings are reasonably sound; mostly adoption is hampered by appallingly bad UX. This needs fixing.
Update late 2021: After long and hard reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the Bitcoin-as-Kingproof-Money has failed. The Bitcoin project has been interesting, and it certainly has shed useful light on how Nation-State actors are likely to react to the presence of real, working, Kingproof Money, and, therefore, some of its desirable key attributes and properties. I still think we need Kingproof Money. Perhaps more than ever.