The more software you have, the more software you need.

Jevons Paradox says that as a resource can be used more efficiently, more of it ends up being used overall. That is, the better the deal you’re getting, the more you’re interested in buying.

This example of real-world compounding reminded me of another example: software. There’s an interesting quirk about software — the more you have of it, the more you need.

Let’s trace through one recent path of the software industry. We start with a website.

A website is a great idea. Websites (code) make it easy to distribute information. There’s so much information that people create dynamic websites (more code).

Dynamic websites are useful, but once you’ve got dynamic data, you want the data available via API (even more code) so that outside developers can build applications (lots more code).

To help with this, you build an API management layer (tons more code), which produces information about all these other applications.

You want that data combined in a dashboard (still even more code) alongside data from all of the other software that relates to your business (which is even more code than all of the other code so far).

Whew.

Anything that cannot go on forever must stop. But there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable end in sight. This is one small piece of the software industry that points to a bigger trend, which seems to contradict common sense. People intuitively understand supply and demand. But here, supply creates more demand.

It’s a good time to be a programmer.

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