Life beyond death


Photo by Bill McIntyre

A lot of my favorite technologies are allegedly dead. You don't get more unfashionable than Usenet, but I was just able to get an answer to my story ID request in under 10 minutes from rec.arts.sf.written! Show me a web tool that can match that. Email's another technology that's been written off, but it's still the central electronic communication channel for most people.

I'm not a mindless luddite, I love shiny new toys as much as the next geek, but I try to learn from how people actually use computers, rather than how I'd like them to. I remember an Enterprise 2.0 technologist describing how he used a wiki to create all his documents, and was frustrated that the rest of his company wouldn't do the same. He didn't get that while wikis are a great innovation, as word processors they suck.

Users generally push back on changes for a reason. If you're getting strong resistance that seems senseless, that just means you don't understand their requirements well enough. Go back and stare deeply at how they use the old solution. You'll usually see why they keep dragging that corpse around.

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