Subject: Re: Lisp in the "real world" From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 1997/07/10 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp,comp.lang.scheme Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Erik Naggum | ... until Microsoft itself rots and dies, which I predict happens between | the years 2005 and 2010. * Bengt Kleberg | That is a very long wait. Still, it is better than not-in-the-forseeable- | future (which is my own guesstimate). Would it be possible to get the | underlaying reasoning? sure. I watched managers at all levels ignore the Year 2000 problem for a whole decade after there started to be some murmurs among software professionals about a possible problems in both software and data. then, in 1995 or so, they suddenly got this Bright Idea that they should do something about it, probably because somebody able to talk their language could express the concern to them, and in typical manager-style, got all panicky about it. the short-sightedness of today's average manager is much worse than the short-sightedness of the average programmer. programmers take some pride in writing code that doesn't break under forseeable stress, but managers seem to take pride in "acting responsibly" and "taking charge" _after_ an accident has happened, or when it is imminent, if they're good. I guess no manager was ever promoted for wasting company resources to avoid a costly problem that nobody ever saw because it was averted. however, managers that act calm in a crises are awarded with promotion, provided they can blame somebody else for the actual incident. if this is how the manager guild actually works to promote their own, it will dawn on some unusually bright manager that all the huge investments in software and in information is all for naught when Microsoft changes their data formats, API's, MFC internals, etc, all the time under their feet, that they can't afford to re-key the documents, and can't afford to keep a barn full of old computers with old software to make old documents readable. it probably doesn't take more than one large-scale lawsuit where some _manager_ loses because he can't retrieve the necessary documents to defend himself, documents which he entrusted to some version of Microsoft Word. with some luck, there is already a manager somewhere who has grasped that he has sold his soul to Bill Gates in exchange for some unproductive tool with many colors and icons that only shortens the lifespan of his company's information to about two releases, and he's very frustrated. he's trying to alert other managers to this problem, and he can't do it, because what he has discovered is not really a threat to managerdom, and he can't act responsibly while blaming somebody else, because it's basically his own idiocy that has come back to bite him. instead, he will find a consulting company that can convert his old documents for him, but only after he has created some crises that he can look good to senior management if he's on top of and _he_ is in charge of fixing, and then he will become famous and capitalize big time on this with nationwide seminars on "protecting company assets in information" and all sorts of ways to lie about how he once was an idiot who bought Microsoft Word for his secretary to type that one letter that could have been the end of his career (never mind the company). then it will take five years for Microsoft to die a horrible, flaming death in humongous lawsuits from companies who have to spend billions upon billions of dollars to fix what was a known problem in 1969. incidentally, I fully expect the responsible authors of software that is not Year 2000 Compliant to be hauled in front of a judge and made to pay. I actually think this is the _only_ reason managers wised up to this problem as early as they did. if it weren't for the lovely legal system, managers wouldn't miss a night's sleep or worry a second until 1999-12-31, when their personal calendars for "tomorrow" said "1900-01-01". managerial incompetence giveth and taketh away. Microsoft is the best proof ever that if you keep managers happy and careless, they will give you oodles and oodles of money to help them stay that way. however, even the average, incompetent manager will wake up, and the senior management will notice that something is happening. when this does transpire (a management word for "happens"), it's important that somebody stand by to solve the problems they _really_ wanted to solve. my guess is that free software will be in that position by the time Microsoft goes down, and that programmers will no longer _want_ to waste enormous amounts of time on stupid bugs only because incompetent managers can't make the right choice. the key to all this is to be prepared for Microsoft's fall. like the Year 2000 Problem, there will be _tens_of_thousands_ of incompetent managers who want to capitalize on the problem -- after all, they know _exactly_ what the problem is. like the Year 2000 Problem, it's very important not to be in a position where you can be blamed for choosing Microsoft. also note that this is different from any other company crash in history, because no other company is so utterly oblivious to the information (values) that their customers invest in with their tools. Microsoft will fall because of lack of confidence, just like a failing bank crashes only because people lose confidence, not because they have actually lost the money, yet. this lack of confidence will be strictly isolated to Microsoft because they have made such a big deal about inventing everything on their own, too. the best part of this is that Microsoft's total lack of cultural influence from the outside world will also mean that they can't just suck up thousands of programmers to fix technical bugs. the whole of Microsoft is built on marketing to incompetent managers, on a balloon of confidence that _will_ burst, and on a belief in "the next version" which _will_ vane. I have the highest hopes for the future. in the post-Microsoft era, I also doubt that governments world-wide will allow a repetition of Bill Gates, who should remember the wisdom in the saying "you have only one chance to make a good last impression". I even envision the creation of American Programmer's Association, possibly with bar exams or apprenticeships. it's time the trade of programmers got as responsible as their position in the society is. Microsoft will, through their phenomenal incompetence, prove the need for certified programmers. of course this will be dirty, this will require flirting with Washington, this will mean all kinds of permits and government control, or at least overseeing by insurance companies and legal advisors. the kinds of people who will be programmers in the future are not the kind of people who become programmers today, just like witch doctors are a different kind of person from today's MD's. I believe programming will be a most important trade in the future, and the company that will prove it to you -- Microsoft. #\Erik -- NT 4.0 -- an abbreviation of "new technology for naught"