Don't Worry, Be Crappy
from the carelessness-as-a-way-of-life dept
While we were just talking about an attempt to create “glitch-free” computers, how about the other end of the spectrum? Salon looks at our culture of carelessness in designing high tech items, and why it may cost us in the future. The article compares US software development today with US car development in the 50s and 60s – which was also careless. This gave Edward Deming’s ideas a chance to catch on in Japan, and let them grab a ton of market share by producing quality products (if you’re not familiar with Deming at all, go read some of his stuff – it’s worth reading). The article looks at the possibility of a Deming-like figure in the software world, but it’s not clear if that’s really possible.
Comments on “Don't Worry, Be Crappy”
I think it really is disturbing that this is the current trend. How would we feel if cars reacted this way. Granted, sometimes it seems like your vehicle is breaking down every other day and it costs an arm and a leg to fix it, but really, one could say that the computer is at least as prolific, in fact, moreso, as the vehicle in today’s life. I haven’t had a vehicle for four months now after having one for years, and I’m still alive. Sure it would be more convenient, but I wouldn’t be able to do my job without a computer. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things without a computer. Similarly, how would we react if this treatment was given to structures ie buildings, bridges? “Oh, yeah, there’s a good 20% chance this building will collapse in the next 2 years or so. We don’t really know when, or what will cause it, but we’ll build you a new one!” No thanks. I also really believe that “Studies have shown that most users rely on less than 10 percent of the features of common programs as Microsoft Word or Netscape Communicator.” People don’t have/aren’t given the time to experiment with new features, and as the article says, it can be very frustrating to do so. Features are nice and all, but it can get to be that you’re getting a lot of tail fins and chrome bumpers, but no car to attach them to.
I agree that if the trend continues, things will be bad. But how long can it really continue? Just like tailfin cars, bad fashions fade. Maybe open source will take over when people figure out that M$ “features” aren’t worth anything. Nah….
This article is annoying because it paints the computer industry with such a broad brush. There *are* applications that *have* to work correctly and there are ways to make them do that. This is and extrememly expensive development model and nobody who buys a word processor wants to pay for it.
The article bemoans the fact that VCRs are more dependable than laptops. Show me a VCR that is as complicated as a laptop and then carry it around (and drop it) all day.
The comparison to commercial airliners is equally absurd. Does the average PC user get *any* training, much less the amount and type of training that an airline pilot gets?
Not that the software industry is innocent. Microsoft, as only one example, exponentially raises the complexity of each new release. The byproduct of this is, of course, exponentially more complex bugs.
There is no other device like a computer. It can be a work tool, a play tool, a tool for creativity, it can help save lives, it is bigger than our imaginations. To ask for toaster-style reliability from a computer means you have to settle for toaster-style functionality.