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Pablo Bermejo
Pablo Bermejo

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Why everything is "micro" in the Digital era?

I just realized about one of these random things that, once thought it can't be unthought. In the era of the "market segment of one", this is the digital age, everything seems to be prefixed as micro. One can think that this just a trend followed by a few ones to grasp some attention while coining new concepts. Didn't all these people watch Extreme Engineering?

[Oh! another random thought, I just remembered this quote from Annie Hall movie: "Right now it's only a notion, but I think I can get money to make it into a concept … and later turn it into an idea"]

  • Microservices: this architectural pattern that promotes moving all the business logic out from monoliths and smart pipes to build new self-contained, individually deployable functional components. Or in the other words, build everything as microservices and we are back at monoliths again.

  • Microinteractions: this UX technique used by designers to incorporate small yet subtle events in user interfaces to delight the user, creating moments of engagement. These could be in the form of animations, extreme attention to detail in icons and pictures and overall, real-world-™-like interactions. Like in The Lawnmower Man movie, but well done (if you didn't see that movie you are not allowed to keep reading)

  • Microcopies: again, another UX technique. You've probably noticed tiny witty words and expressions in user interfaces, like tooltips and succinct pieces of text that are aimed at helping and, again, delighting the user through the use of a digital application. In other words, make sure they stay within the path you have designed for them, so they can be rewarded. And as Jakob Nielsen said, "make things easier, know your customer and you'll double your business"

  • Microcommits and microreleases: or in other words, how to apply lean techniques (from the manufacturing industry) to the Software Development Life Cycle. This technique is based in the mantra of "fail fast, fail often" and the continuous integration of developers' contributions to build, and more importantly, ship high-quality systems. If you haven't read The Goal or The Phoenix project, please do it now (or you are not allowed to keep reading)

Coming back to the original question, I am curious about what is the conscious (or unconscious) rationale behind this terminology. I suppose it is all about reduction of obscurity and increase of understanding. An overall new level in the human-computer interaction with greater levels of empathy and connection that we've never seen before. A communication and engagement pattern that is also translated to the inter-machine communications.

I believe this is an evolutionary pattern. Soon we'll be immersed in the world of the "nano" terminology and before we just can realize, everything will be suffixed as "-less". Codeless. Serverless. Automation. We'll be talking about disposable IT systems, where it will be easier and cheaper to throw an application to the bin and re-generate it from scratch than fixing bugs.

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