resistormaid and the Curse of Knowledge

Published on 2022-03-08 by Sateallia

After releasing resistormaid, all the friends I showed it had the exact same question: "No one made this before? Surely someone made this before." That is the logical answer. It's just a commandline resistor calculator, there is exactly zero percent of chance no one made it before. And I had the same answer every time as well: "Well, let's look for one together." Every time, we find nothing. Which begs the question... Why can't I find one? There exist websites or apps that do this sure, but surely someone made this before the internet era.

Then one of my friends jokingly said, "I feel like there is no way someone didn't do some resistor CLI app though... It's probably called something that doesn't make sense or some obscure dated joke".

"That's what READMEs are for!" I hear you say. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Even if the solution to this in the software industry is that simple, this problem isn't only relevant there.

It applies to all media

The time a content is consumed and the time it's produced don't necessarily have to be close.

How many times have you read a classic book that didn't require you to pull out your phone or read a wall of text by the translator/editor to understand what obscure fact they were referencing in a one-liner? Many of them are practically unreadable because of this problem. How many times have you seen a new meme in a brand new video game? Big production media go through months if not years of approvals, producing, revisals, polish so by the time you get to play it, the meme's long dead. How many times have you watched an old movie and laughed at the decades old political joke?

One should not rely on the audience to have the same experiences as the author. It is important to appeal to the lowest denominator that is the human nature if you want the content to survive. In-jokes, political commentary, knowledge on a subject, humoral memes, pop culture references; these will only narrow the audience. Not in the sense of the immediate audience, no. Think human history. Think descendants. Think broader.

Let's look at Moby Dick for example. At its surface, it's an adventure thriller making it enjoyable by the common man. At its core, it's a complex take and commentary on human nature and ego. Herman Melville (shamefully) died penniless! Only years after his death did it gained the attention it deserved as people started delayering the onion and saw it for what it is. Even if no one hunts whales nowadays, it's still enjoyable.

Immortality through Writing

Like how a chain is as strong as its weakest link, a content is as relevant as its most dated part. Relying on a passing reference to pull a content together is sabotaging its lifespan. It is, in a sense, trading immortality to viral marketing. Such content will be forgotten to time, not being able to get its points across. The experiences the artist's trying to share will be forgotten to time and events that would be avoided by their wisdom will be repeated. Therefore, the artist should avoid relying on passing things to elaborate on their points if they wish to make their writings last.

Mortality through Writing

Mind you, I'm not refusing the worth of passing elements. There is need for short-term lifespanned or specifically targeted content. That's fine as long the content is supposed to be short-term lifespanned or specifically targeted.

Remember how I said "It is important to appeal to the lowest denominator that is the human nature if you want the content to survive." before? That's the big if.


Writing balanced for both the current and the upcoming eras is hard. I don't exactly have a solution to this. I'm sorry. I also apologize for the whimsical writing. I realize my sentences keep swinging from subject to subject.

How many of you would recognize the last paragraph as a theatre play reference? I will doubt any percentage that's higher than 5%. That's exactly the point I'm trying to get across.

Also, don't take this post too seriously. I'm just emptying my mind here.