Benjamin Read's code garden.

Both Sides, Now

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This article is about: musicpersonal

CSS isn’t a programming language. CSS is a programming language. JavaScript shouldn’t be used to render HTML. JavaScript is the only way of writing HTML. CSS is overly complicated, difficult to learn and hopelessly outdated. All of these opinions provoke a response in me. It’s just perhaps not the one the authors intended.

When I see comments like the ones above I can’t help but wonder if they’re written out of a genuine frustration or concern a person has, whether they’re meant to provoke an argument, or even whether they are using others’ frustration to raise their own profile.

Whatever the case, there’s another way of looking at the situation that I hope others can benefit from:

Both Sides, Now #

I was surprised on checking Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 500 songs that Joni Mitchell’s song “Both Sides, Now” wasn’t in the top 50. For me, this song is even more mesmerising than any of Bob Dylan’s incredible output … and I’m saying that as a firm fan of Dylan.

The song suggests for me that there are different ways of looking at everything in life … even conceptually simple things such as clouds can appear totally different to two observers.

The lyrics seem to convey the idea that eventually we can learn to look at things from other perspectives, not just our own.

That invokes a more mature and happier approach to life: with hindsight the things we argued about once can seem somewhat trivial compared to the way we look back on them.

I imagine the author of this song looking back on an experience and thinking, I wish I hadn’t argued that point, now I’m older I can see it from a different perspective. All I achieved was conflict. And that conflict stopped me from enjoying and appreciating the differences I encountered.

Things that Aren’t Conflicts #

When I see arguments like I mentioned at the outset, I think, that’s merely one way of looking at things.

Is CSS-in-JS a mistake? For some people, it is. Totally unnecessary. For others, it’s absolutely the best way to achieve the results they seek. Having worked in both camps, I can see there’s no conflict in building for the web either way.

Is JavaScript destroying the web? I’ll say this again (though I am starting to sound like a stuck record!) that there’s a lack of HTML and CSS skills among our peers, and that will need to be addressed at some point. But look at the things a dynamic language like JavaScript has enabled us to achieve. Without it, the web would be a much poorer place.

Looking Back #

Conflict is paralysing. It stops anything useful from being achieved. It’s far better to acknowledge the difference, respectfully share our opinion, and leave it at that.

Starting now, and in years to come, if there are to be any, we ought to try to do the same. If we see someone voice an opinion that riles you, try to think, can I see it from both sides, now?

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“Wisest are they who know they do not know.”

— Jostein Gaarder