Related link: http://www.userland.com/whatIsStopEnergy
A few months ago, Dave Winer wrote a piece on “Stop Energy” that I really enjoyed, but for reasons opposite to what Dave meant.
It’s worthwhile to read the entire piece, but what I like best about it is Dave’s opposition between “Forward Motion” and “Stop Energy”. Forward Motion is good, progress, while Stop Energy is the destroyer of progress, keeping people from getting things done. Dave complains that “Stop Energy trumps Forward Motion every time, it seems.”
Dave’s notion of Stop Energy is sadly limited by its existence as a mirror of forward motion: “Stop Energy is not reasoned, it never takes into account the big picture, it is the mirror image of Forward Motion.” This description seems to have lost the richness inherent in the word “no”, simplifying stop energy to unreasoned negativity - it’s all about the veto. In reality, I often find Stop Energy far better reasoned than Forward Motion.
In my telling of the story, people who only push forward are like cars with only a gas pedal. Forward motion is great, but stopping makes a lot of sense much of the time, both in driving and in technology.
Creating new technologies is good stuff - if they’re the right technologies, and if they solve new problems. An enormous amount of current technological development is remarkable reinvention of wheels, and some of the new wheels are even worse than the old wheels.
At this point, after a boom of “irrational exuberance” both financial and technological, it seems like a great time to push for a break - or, even better, some reverse energy. XML got its spark by shrinking SGML’s jungle of options, before a few years of forward motion piled on levels of complexity that even SGML gurus can marvel at. Instead of asking “what new tools do I want?”, it may be a good time to ask “what tools can I do without, and what are the benefits?”
Personally, I like cars and communities that come with brakes as well as a transmission that lets them go backward as well as forward. Forward motion alone sounds great, but comes with its own set of costs. Stop Energy is necessary and useful stuff. Doing more by doing less seems to work really well as the piles of possibilities grow ever higher.
The weekend’s coming up - that’s a good time for some stop energy, reasoned or not.
Don’t you just hate it when someone gets in the way of your forward motion?