On The Giant’s Shoulder

Giants! They are all around us, but we don’t even realize they are there. We are so much into looking forward, that sometimes, we don’t even realize that our current position or state are due to these giants. It’s sooooo easy to dismiss a piece of technology as “improper” or “inadequate”, even if had served you extremely well over a long period of time. Yes, if you take a Smart Phone and a cellular phone of the early 2000’s, they are fundamentally different – but, if you drill down to the basic functionality, it still is the same functionality.

Recently, an announcement made by #Slack had showed me how small respect and acknowledgement current technology companies have, for the roots and bases of their current technology. The announcement made is the following:

Unfortunately, support for gateways is ending. Starting on May 15th, it will no longer be possible to connect to Slack using the IRC and XMPP gateways. Learn more

Now, I remember the first time I’ve seen #slack – the person who showed it to me was only 24 and I said: “Are you fuck’n kidding me? that’s a glorified web interface to IRC”. Seriously, it even adopted the same directive and channel structure as IRC. It was so similar to IRC, that it even reminded me of the same flaws of IRC. And then the #bots came and i was thinking to myself: “What? a new type of eggdrop bot bullshit, again?” – honestly, for a 40+ year old geek, #Slack is nothing more a spiffed up version of IRC that simply looks a little better. Actually, if you are an Open Source developer, IRC is so common with the various projects – that #Slack is considered an obscene word. The cool kids now use #RocketChat and #MatterMost, but still, these are nothing more than a #Slack alternative, which in turn is a clone of the old IRC network. Yes, it has several new features that make it awesome for developers and team building, but the basics are still the basics.

Now, regardless of how successful #Slack will be, it will not ever be as successful as IRC. The span of IRC across the Internet is not millions of users, it’s billions of users. With over 30 different IRC networks world wide (with DALnet, EFnet, Freenode probably the biggest). Thousands of servers collaborating freely across the world and a very low barrier of entry, the IRC standard is here to stay.

#Slack’s announcement of “separation” from IRC and XMPP, to me sounds like: “Hey Dad, you’re an old dude man and you’re embarrassing me. I’m going to deny any type of connection that is suggested between us from now on.” – sounds familiar? If #Slack would have truly wanted to show its appreciation to its predecessor, it would have easily would have been able to say: “As #Slack had evolved, the support for IRC gatewaying will become community based only. #Slack will continue to provide the community with the various APIs required to connect to the #Slack network, however, that support will be performed by the community.”. Doing so will provide the community and #Slack two things. If the community sees a true need, it will continue supporting the IRC gatewaying function – if not, it will die. Personally, I find #Slack’s one sided announcement irritating and insulting, as it simply spits in the faces of the creators of the original.


Leave a Reply