Ancient software and programmer-archaeologists
I've been meaning to compose a longer entry / essay about the idea of ancient software--and when I say ancient, I mean in the millenia-old sense, not the tongue-in-cheek decades-old sense we usually think. This notion first got stuck in my head after reading Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky and the description of the Qeng Ho interstellar trading group.
Imagine a particular work of software development as a tradition spanning hundreds or thousands of years, undertaken by generations of rotating shifts of programmers taking their turns in cold sleep. Imagine layer upon layer of scripts, code, hacks, APIs, and workarounds so deep that it becomes viable to make a life's profession as a programmer-archaeologist. And imagine it all driven by commercial pragmatism--not for sales of software, but for the day-to-day necessity of running systems whose reliability needs to span light-years and centuries.
But, since this is probably the most I'll actually get around to writing on the topic, I wanted to at least make a note of it.