Re: [unrev-II] Eric's Summary [edited]

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Mon Apr 24 2000 - 22:52:00 PDT

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "[unrev-II] Collaborative Systems Development Efforts, v.2"

    Adam Cheyer wrote:
    > Are we listening closely enough to Doug's experience and wishes?
    Possibly not. But...

    We are starting where a design needs to start: on the user and the
    problem they need to solve. Since we are not building "everything for
    everybody", we need to be highly focused on what we *are* going to

    The existence of that focus, or the lack of it, shows up big time when
    you go looking for funding. If you haven't got it, if you can't define
    it in 30 seconds or less, and explain why someone cares in under 2
    minutes, you have already lost the "sale", whether to a customer or to a
    potential funder.

    Your summary paragraph assumes an understanding of the term "Open
    Hyperdocument System". What is that exactly? What does it do, and how
    does it make the user better off than they are without it? We certainly
    can't assume that the person we are talking to has ever heard of it. And
    after all this time, I would still like a codified definition. I've put
    forward a number of requirements for what *I* think one is, but is that
    a subset, a superset, or an intersection of the "real" definition? Or
    will the term take on meaning after we get done creating whatever it is
    we are supposed to build?

    The other aspect of design work is that committing to a methodology
    before explicitly detailing the goals is almost uniformly a disaster,
    as I'm sure you know. Our choice is to play follow the leader, or do the
    work that ensures we build the right thing.

    Let's open it up the question to the group. My feeling is that we should
    engage in a conscious design process that may well involve retreading
    ground Doug has already covered -- but the point of what of we are
    building is capture such investigations in such a way that we *could*
    profit by them, had they been preserved.

    The importance of preserving rationale is multifold:
      1) It prevents you from making mistakes or bad decisions that
         have already been discovered to be unprofitable.
      2) It saves you the time it would take to discover them.
      3) The existence of the rationale lets you identify when the
         thinking that seemed appropriate at the time is no longer
         correct -- so you don't miss opportunities.

    The reason for doing the analysis is to make sure we are not missing
    anything, to uncover information in the first two categories when it is
    available, and to keep from going down blind alleys presented by
    category 3.

    But it takes time. I think we should find out if anyone else is
    impatient with the process. I know I was, 15 years ago when I enlisted
    two developers to build a system that I already "understood". But I can
    tell you the result was far better than the best image I ever had at the

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