A Japanese tale of OSS monoliths versus modularity

There aren’t a lot of podcasts out there that specialise in OSS (apart from ours of course), so I tend to listen to a lot of material from other fields, sometimes adjacent, sometimes not.

I’m just coming to the end of this one with Peter Diamandis and Roger Hamilton. At over 2 hours, it’s a longie but certainly a goodie! A very goodie!!


In it, Roger talks about Japanese companies that have existed for over 1,000 years. Yes, with two (or maybe even three) extra zeros than the time horizons we often think about. He also tells a story of a discussion with a Japanese about the thinking behind the construction of their monuments.

Whereas European society built their ancient monuments from stone, the Japanese built theirs from wood. Whereas many western stone monuments are now decaying after millennia standing out in the elements of rain and wind, their Japanese contemporaries are still standing strong.

The Japanese structures were designed to have their timbers continually cared for and replaced as needed, allowing for continual renewal.  Fascinating how materials with a shorter shelf-life actually support a longer, near infinite, time horizon.

You can see where I’m going with this no doubt.

Rather than building our OSS out of stone, which might have the perception of longevity (but are really difficult to maintain and repair), we should take the Japanese timber mindset. To build our solutions for a much shorter time-frame but with in-built modularity and ease of replacement to facilitate a near endless time horizon.

I know we’ve been evolving our solutions from monoliths to microservices in recent years. Microservices, like timber beams, are designed to be maintained and cared for. They certainly tick that box. But I wonder whether they’re being developed within a holistic, monumental, long-ranging frame of view?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a message below!

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