Pragmatism, Idealism, Tension and Balance

A friend and I got into a brief discussion around audio codecs and licence restrictions today as we talked about working on something together – specifically why Firefox doesn’t support mp3 in their audio tag. Other discussions we have had hit on this idea of pragmatism vs. idealism. Today I was reminded of this now-out-of-date article that still had some interesting points to make (while also making dumb points along the way).

What I gleaned from the article is that there can be a good sort of balance these perspectives can bring each other. That balance is achieved in a tension between not completely ignoring the reality of the situation, and not completely capitulating on principles that matter.
It seems to me this thought can be applied more broadly to things outside the realm of software development. Church practice, politics, family life, etc. In most things I tend to find myself farther to the side of the spectrum of “we can’t compromise on principles”. Some people I have relationships with tend to balance my perspective with their “don’t be unrealistic” perspective. There can be some tension in those relationships in the process, but I am finding myself appreciating that more than I used to. The tension can be a good thing.

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Web developer/designer with a strong preference for open source software

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