One idea : Hegel & Historic Dialectic

This second post on philosophy is going to be on Hegel, on his conception of progress. The title of this post could have been : Concept of Progress and how are we getting any better.

Short Intro : Hegel

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is a german pilosopher that lived in Berlin for the most part. However, he has traveled a lot in Germany during his life. He was born in Stuttgart and went to Bamberg, Heidelberg and Nuremberg, just to cited few.

I am not a philosopher so I don’t have an exhaustive knowledge of all the possible philosophers that have existed (or exist) but from what I know I find that Hegel is my preferred philosopher. His ideas are really moderns and it resonates quite good till today

As it is my preferred philosopher, you will get more of him soon. He has developed so many concepts that are interesting. Of course, most of the concepts have been debated / developed nowadays and none of them are absolute truth but the ideas that Hegel developed are worth discovering.

Progress by Hegel

Hegel believed that the study of history is important to know what is coming. He first explained that there is a pattern in history, things are not happening randomly. If there was no pattern, history will not teach us anything.

Hegel developed his law on history and it goes something like this :
Every stage in history is a logical development from a previous stage.

This is important because from this statement, Hegel believes that everything in history is unique but pattern could help us identify the future.

The rule that push the progress forward is what I called “the contradiction push”.

This rule implies that progress is pushed forward by contradiction to the current state. Each stage of history opposes the previous one in a way.

We could clearly see that in action with Politics. In 2018, we have a range of populism parties that are reigning over different countries (Italy, US, Austria, Poland, Russia, etc…). You can see that as an opposition to the previous state that was pretty liberal for the whole world (Obama in the US, Elstine in Russia, …)

At the “end of the road”, Hegel states that there is a synthesis. First stage : thesis, second stage : antithesis and the third stage the synthesis.
It doesn’t have to be on 3 moments only, there can be multiple thesis and antithesis. Because what Hegel told us is that the synthesis will be the thesis of a new anti thesis. So there is no moment where this progress stops.

A world in contradiction is never going to be on a stable state.

Applying the historic dialectic at work

It would be hard to directly apply this at work but when you take a step back on your work field, and you are around for some times, you can probably apply it.

In web analytics, I can clearly see that there is a new contradiction that is coming now about coding your analytics tool. For a long time, it was a lawless state where more code-savvy you were, better you could track the different features.

Now the trend is on getting as less code as possible into production. Everything that looks like code should be hidden behind layer of complexity so it looks simple to the end user. (Tag Manager, Launch Extension….)

Both approach are probably right and probably wrong at the same time. There is no simple solution and it depends more on your capacity of keeping clean code and good process on data retrieval more than the complexity of your code or the simplicity of the interface.

Code can be complex if you are trying to retrieve complex information, but you need to be sure that this complexity is needed or required first. It is worth developing an extension to hide the complexity of your data retrieval process. But what made that data complex to retrieved at the beginning ?

It feels like the beginning of the 2000’s when there were those monolith back-ends. It was containing everything, end-to-end, but it was slow to improved. Then some of the big players were like : “we need to give more freedom to our teams so they can developed faster”. After that everyone was doing their own back end with micro services here and there.
And some started to think : “I am more independent but I have so many dependencies on other independent teams. My backlog is filled with request from other teams, is it really freedom ?”

Now I feel like it is coming back to have some core functionality glued together, so more macro services…

Let’s see what it becomes with web analytics, but it feels like the next phase is probably going to be more mature about this.

And where do you think this concept applies ?
Do you think we are on the anti thesis at the moment for web analytics tracking ? Or are we on the synthesis ? with Launch we can actually do custom code or build an extension to hide the code if we want.
Leave a comment to let me know what you think.


  1. Again, cool article! I would not be surprised when you apply for a philosophy MA next October :))

    About hiding code – I truly believe it should be done only when necessary (private data, segmentation etc.) but when it comes to tracking and commenting all should be visible. One day I learn something from you, another you something from me… sounds quite utopia but if all analytics folks will follow that we could make from our earth a better place :))

    1. I can only relate to that philosophy. Open source your code and your knowledge.
      Everyone, including you, will get smarter in the process.

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