We (the People) finally had to "bail out" the American Auto Industry in large, but certainly not the whole!, part because the prevailing attitude held by management at the highest level went something like: If we build it, they'll buy it - period.
If I am "preaching" to the choir, how many of us remember how difficult getting seat belts installed as standard equipment in a new car really was. How much more difficult was the task to convince drivers (i.e., the end users) to buckle up for their own safety - even if they were only about to move the vehicle a few feet, park it and get out?
Today, the bells and whistles still go off when the engine starts and the driver's belt is not buckled, because many people still haven't learned enough basic physics to realize that there is no such thing as a drive to short to necessitate taking the proper precautions.
What the folks in marketing (especially, since they enjoy the major influence with senior management, boards of (mis)direction, and (lest we forget,) the all-important stock holders (the pockets from which flow start-up capital, our "toys," etc.) tend to forget, ignore, or fail to understand is - before you sell the "candy," a factory must be designed and built and tested for ability to produce product in sanitary conditions while maximizing output, ability to ship and deliver, and all the other factors which must be considered in order to avoid constant FDA audits and inspections, ruinous lawsuits, and potential stacks of dead bodies rotting in the sun.
As producers of "software" we are at least once removed from the kind of dirty hands-on responsibilities one finds in the development, production, sales and distribution of a simple stick of chewing gum. Those who somehow control or provide our inspiration (carrots, sticks, chains and whips) now have people saying, "I'm a PC, and Windows blah was my idea." Right.
Part of my diatribe has its roots in the way IT, Software Development, Maintenance, and Support have evolved as a sort of mystical "priesthood" who never really communicated with the "end users." The users were - and in many respects still are - the poor devils who are supposed to make productive use of the software installed on their machines, and whose butts are on the line if for some reason they don't or can't (never mind won't) "make it do what it's supposed to do.".
Now the pendulum is swinging back to (it is hoped) a the region of "New Ideas." And so much of our information resources, assets and efforts have been invested, wasted and will be lost forever if we fail to "get it right" this time. Will we be given the time we need to get it right? Well... In an atmosphere where productivity is measured in the sound and frequency of keystrokes, and people with great typing skills and lousy or no critical reasoning ability have been raised high on our Olympian mounts as the true heroes of our "mystical" craft, I harbor serious doubt.
The machines become ever more capable, swift, and ubiquitous, so the weakness isn't there. Our greatest problem continues to be the conflict between the ways we are expected to produce and maintain new software, and the realities so many of us know are necessary to achieve the desired results.
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