I Sync, Therefore I Am

Utah 476

A few years ago, back in the late Cretaceous, programming was a lot simpler than it is now.

In a nutshell, the bar was lower. Users had lower expectations. Software didn’t do all that much, and it was perceived as a minor miracle when it actually worked. Shrines would be erected, candles lit, flowers arranged. Celebrations might continue until the IT guys got tired, sent everyone home, and finally got some sleep.

Most of our recent work on Backroads has focused on improving the tracking experience. Of course, someone interested in travel is probably also going to be interested in recording their travel locations. And yet, we released many versions of the app without any support whatsoever. Intolerable, for the world’s best travel companion app™.

However, even with world-class support for tracking, it still seemed like something was missing. In our dreams we were haunted by Zawinski’s law, feverishly tearing open fractal matryoshkas of envelopes with no underlying message to be found. We’d awake sweating under rumpled sheets, hoping it was just the head cold.

Clearly we needed something more. These days, if an app can’t successfully impersonate you on social media and overthrow foreign governments with carefully crafted fake news, it’s barely considered sentient. Three stars at best. Your minimum viable product is viable no longer.

But deep down, we didn’t want to read anyone else’s email. Nor did we want to add to the noise on Facebook and Twitter with travel-related spam. There’s quite enough of that already, and election interference really isn’t our forte.

As we tossed and turned, we remembered that computing, at its core, used to mostly be about copying things around. Registers to cache to memory to disk and then back again, until CPUs got so complicated that even the bus you take to work is now mostly speculative. The same principle can still be seen in modern computing, which at its core is about making permanent copies, surveilling them, and then selling you ads. One might call it standing on the shoulders of giants, except the giants are probably robots.

Then it hit us. Just like the embarrassing social media posts that will follow you around forever, what if we synced copies of your tracks around to every device you own? The future is now, and it’s an indelible data stream that can’t be turned off. Why wouldn’t we want to participate in that? And as of Backroads 1.1.4, you can too.

Now all we need is a blockchain and a neural network.

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