Long Road to Simple Systems
Services-based applications, scalable and always up-to-date, will be harder to write than stand-alone programsjust as automatic transmissions are harder to build than stick shifts.The voice on the telephone sounded as if its owner couldnt decide between rage and exhaustion. "My machine re-booted while I was working, and now most of my e-mail in-box is gone. I thought you could only lose work that you hadnt saved!" I had to break the news that behind the scenes, his e-mail client programwhich was open when the system crashed, since he was responding to new messages at the timehad probably corrupted a weakly structured in-box file that had not been properly closed when the system went down. Its just the latest example to cross my desk of the ways that a users simplified, everyday mental model of IT has to struggle against the ugly complexity of the actual hardware and software.
Or, alternatively, its the latest example of IT makers failure to think about how users want to interact with their products and to make their products behave correctly when used in those most likely waysand to tolerate their most likely failure modes. It makes you realize how immature IT still is and how much work remains to be donein the same way that other technologies have needed decades of work to make them usable, even after all the effort that went into making them work at all.