I read a little blog post that struck a chord with me recently. It’s fairly old and but is just as relevant today as it was ten years ago.

The Black Triangle

In essence the post is about the first major stage in many projects – getting the basic framework in place.

There have been several occasions in my life where I’ve been working on a project and someone has demanded to know how I’m getting on. Once I’ve shown them what’s happening they’ve not understood what I’m showing them. The end result is basically that I get left alone to keep working but the person checking up feels like I’m not pulling my weight.

Unsurprisingly this is intensely frustrating when I’ve been working my arse off. Thankfully I’ve learned to express myself a little better in recent years and as a result run into it far less often.

The black triangle in question is the first thing being rendered on a bit of old development hardware. It’s not much but it’s a proof of concept that shows that the technologies implemented so far are doing their job.

In the old days as an IT manager I implemented a centralised photo archive in order to allow anyone with access to the company intranet to reach the vast library of images we owned the rights to. They could easily be browsed and downloaded to any user’s machine without requiring a dedicated workstation or an external hard disk passed around the office. Showing this to anyone whilst I was setting it up basically got the response “So you’re working on a webpage..?”

Years later someone asked me whose computer the pictures were on (we didn’t need new pictures often!). I pointed them to the centralised archive and received glowing praise. They had expected to have to sift through files in Windows explorer without any real tagging or hierarchy it would seem. To find something easily indexed designed for accessibility was an unexpected miracle.

Of course when I was setting it up it seemed like everyone watching assumed I was faffing about with some random webpage. What they were looking at was the first black triangle. I guess I’m still annoyed at our general culture of “I don’t understand this techy thing, therefore it’s dumb and easy to do”. I don’t understand much of metallurgy but it’s still a complicated discipline that requires knowledge and skill.

My most recent black triangle moment was building my game and getting the turn sequence to operate properly. It didn’t look like much but it meant that the game environment I’d created was working properly. Now I have a way to talk about times like that - something which makes me very happy.

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