The last time I sat down and seriously worked on content for this blog was, amazingly, over 5 years ago now in 2010.
It coincided with finalizing a large design project for a Legislative Informatics system and resulted in a series of blog posts to attempt to answer the question "What is a Legislature/Parliament?" from an informatics perspective.
IT has changed a lot in the intervening 5 years. Changes creep up on all of us in the industry because they are, for the most part, in the form of a steady stream, rather than a rushing torrent. We have to deal with change every day of our lives in IT. It goes with the territory.
In fact, I would argue that the biggest difference between Computer Science in theory versus Computer Science in practice, is that practitioners have to spend a lot of time and effort dealing with change. Dealing with change effectively, is itself, an interesting design problem and one I will return to here at some point.
If I had to pick out one item to focus on as the biggest change it would without a doubt be the emergence - for good or ill - of a completely different type of World Wide Web. A Web based not on documents and hyperlinks, but on software fragments that are typically routed to the browser in "raw" form and then executed when they get there.
It can be argued that this is a generalization of the original web in that anything that can be expressed as a document in the original web can be expressed as a program. It can be argued that the modern approach looses nothing but gains a lot - especially in the area of rich interactive behavior in browser-based user interfaces.
I can see both sides of it. At the time I did the closing keynote at XTech 2008 I was firmly in the camp mourning the loss of the web-of-documents. I think I am still mostly there. Especially when I think about documents that have longevity requirements and documents that have legal status. However, I can see a role that things like single-page webapps can play. As is so often the case in IT, we have a tendency to fix what needed fixing in the old model but introducing collateral damage to what was good about the old model.
The middle-way, as ever, beckons as a resting place. Who knows when we will get there. Probably just in time to make room for some newly upcoming pendulum swinging that is gathering place on the server side. Namely the re-emergence of content addressable storage which is part of the hashification of everything. I want to get to that next time.