Adam Johnson

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Jef Raskin on Why Software Is the Way It Is


I was reading 37signals’ Getting Real the other morning, and was struck by this quote in the chapter Embrace Constraints:

Fight Blight

What has been described as “creeping elegance” is probably better described as “feature blight,” for like a fungus on a plant it gradually elaborates and blurs the true outline of the product while it drains its sap. The antidote to feature blight is, of course, the “constricting deadline.” This results in features being discarded in proportion to the time it would take to implement them. It is often the case that the most useful features take the longest to implement. Thus the combination of the blight and the deadline yields software as we know and love it, comprised of bountiful quantities of useless features.

–Jef Raskin, author (from Why Software Is the Way It Is)

In my ignorance, I didn’t know who Jef Raskin, originator of the Apple Mac, was. On reading his Wikipedia page, I was saddened to see he died in 2005, just before “Getting Real” was released.

After trawling the web I found this quote was published on his website It’s sadly down now but was maintained for years after his death.

Thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine we can still access the page.

The quote was one of many “widgets of the week” he wrote, all on that page. They’re all great reading, mostly still relevant 20+ years later, so go take a look.

And maybe donate to the Internet Archive, without them so much of our digital heritage would be lost.



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