A new generation of young techies comes along, takes a look at the current stack, finds it too daunting (rightly so) and decides to start over from scratch. They find that they can make things happen that the previous generation couldn't cause they were so mired in the complexity of the systems they had built. The new systems become popular with "power users" -- people who yearn to overcome the limits of the previous generation. It's exhilirating! [...]
The trick in each cycle is to fight complexity, so the growth can keep going. But you can't keep it out, engineers like complexity, not just because it provides them job security, also because they really just like it. But once the stack gets too arcane, the next generation throws their hands up and says "We're not going to deal with that mess."
Now, I may be a few years behind Dave, but I think he is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or the stack out with the cycle here. Back when I started out, to get my computer to generate sound, I had to make my own D to A converter to attach to the parallel port, and for non-character graphics, my hardware hacker friends swapped the character generator ROM for RAM, and I had to code in assembler to swap the display data in time.
Dave's revolutionary impulsiveness has a germ of truth, but what really happens is that successful technologies become invisible infrastructure for the next things that build on them.
I no longer need to write assembler, heck I no longer need to write C code. Dave's very URL - scripting.com - shows how we have built up layers of utility to work upon.
What we're doing with the Open Stack — OpenID, OAuth, PortableContacts and OpenSocial— is part of this evolutionary cycle too. We're combining building blocks into a simplified whole that makes sense to people who want their websites to become social.
It comes down to what you can take for granted as the baseline to build the next exciting cycle on.