Skip to content

John Lam's Blog


Today's morning read is a wonderful essay that hit the top of HN titled 100 years of whatever this will be. The key thing that Avery Pennarun talks about is the importance of centralized regulation in distributed systems. He also talks about just how hard it is to build a reliable distributed system from his perspective of being the co-founder of TailScale. He also evokes (with lots of examples) the observation that decentralized markets trend towards chaos over time and why it's important to centrally regulate them.

The job of regulation is to stop distributed systems from going awry. Because distributed systems always go awry.

He references another essay The Tyranny of Structurelessness that says "if you don't have an explicit hierarchy you have an implicit one" and then brilliantly applies it to look at why your distributed system can fail.

The rant about technology at the start is awesome as well, an example:

IT security has become literally impossible: if you install all the patches, you get SolarWinds-style supply chain malware delivered to you automatically. If you don't install the patches, well, that's worse. Either way, enjoy your ransomware.

Worth noting that this is a thinly veiled takedown of the DeFi and crypto movements in general and he accuses them of making handwavy arguments around the reliability of those systems ("it's decentralized so it can't fail!")

Go read it. I'll wait. #

I'm really happy with rebooting this blog using Cloudflare Pages. In an attempt to build a more interesting site with interactive content (e.g., embedded YouTube videos, Twitter and Linked in blocks etc.) I've found that the size of the site (and the bloated-ness) of the site has increased dramatically. It's 100% due to how I'm using JavaScript to embed those external services. This is a report that I just ran this morning:

I think that in the future, I need to teach vscode-zola how to embed an image of, say the YouTube video, the Twitter post or the Instagram post with a link to the original instead of doing these crazy embeddings. The fact that my web page is 6.4MB is inconceivable. #