Software That Lasts 200 Years

Interesting article by Dan Bricklin: Software That Lasts 200 Years.

I will call this software that forms a basis on which society and individuals build and run their lives “Societal Infrastructure Software”. This is the software that keeps our societal records, controls and monitors our physical infrastructure (from traffic lights to generating plants), and directly provides necessary non-physical aspects of society such as connectivity.

We need to start thinking about software in a way more like how we think about building bridges, dams, and sewers. What we build must last for generations without total rebuilding. This requires new thinking and new ways of organizing development. This is especially important for governments of all sizes as well as for established, ongoing businesses and institutions.

In a nutshell, the article recommends some form of private-public parternship to develop infrastructural software in an open source manner with an eye toward long term utility rather than short-term profit.

I think the Open Source Applications Foundation might be a step in this direction.

Can We Do Away with Pop-ups Now?

Vast majority of pop-up click-throughs are a mistake:

Rob Stevens, head of business behaviour at Bunnyfoot, said: “Achieving an over-inflated click-through rate might help brands to justify their spend, but they are only deceiving themselves. The brand, which we used in our research study, is not only wasting up to 90% of its budget by paying for unintentional click-throughs, it is also frustrating and deceiving users.”

When the august firm of Bunnyfoot Universality says it’s so, it must be. 🙂 Perhaps a few more studies will be done to confirm this and drive a wooden stake through the heart of pop-up advertising.

Article on an Association Weblog

Just noticed this article in my referral links (they kindly link to my site at the end of the piece): Case Study: Why the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s (ACCA) blog is not cool by Debbie Weil in WordBiz Report.

It’s tempting to say the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has a cool blog. But it wouldn’t be true.

What ACCA, the trade association for 4,000 heating, ventilating and air conditioning companies, has created is a highly efficient way of communicating with its members.

It’s a nice piece that goes through why the ACCA blog was created and how they run it. I liked the message to their members that Kevin Holland launched it with:

ACCAbuzz is a new way we will be communicating with our members and the entire HVACR industry. It gives us an easy way to post quick news items, commentary, and links to articles of interest. As time goes on, ACCAbuzz will become the real nerve center of our website, because it’s here that our staff and members can keep everyone in the loop, ask questions, and get real-time feedback. In announcing this new site to our members, we called it a “daily newsletter on steroids,” because it just keeps growing, all day long!

Also see the page of association blog links on my wiki.

Successfully deploying a content management system

James Robertson has posted another great article on content management systems: Successfully deploying a content management system. This quote sums up what the piece covers:

Our experience has shown that there are five key elements that must be addressed in a content management project:

  • strategy
  • change & communications
  • content
  • design
  • technology

The following sections discuss each of these five key elements, and give some examples of activities that should be considered.

Recommended reading.

The Role of Technology in a CMS Selection Process

James Robertson has published a briefing on Specifying technology in a CMS tender. I agree with his overall premise but have a few comments on some of the specifics. First a quote:

In short, by focusing on the technology aspects, these tenders often fail to select the best product, and don’t deliver the desired business benefits.

For this reason, we encourage those developing tenders to concentrate on the business requirements, and minimise the technical details.

That being said, there is a legitimate need to specify specific technology issues. This briefing presents some guidelines for doing so, in a way that will generate the best outcomes.

The main point, that the technology is irrelevant if you don’t have criteria that will support your overall business objectives, is right on the money. Assuming you have that part down, I think it is very important to play to your IT strengths if at all possible.

One factor not mentioned specifically in the article is that CMS’ are typically high-maintenance beasts (in my experience). If it is running on a platform for which you already have experienced admins, your life will be much easier. There are a lot of not very well documented tweaks and tricks to keep servers and systems running optimally. You’ll need knowledgable admins for a CMS that bears significant load.

Also, staff expertise in the CMS coding language is more important than given here, I think. Without it you are completely at the mercy of contractors to make modifications, no matter how minor. If you have one or more staff who know the language you can make the minor adjustments that tend to come up pretty frequently without having to spend consulting money nor take the time to secure the resources. You can be more nimble by making those small adjustments yourself and save the cash for major development and integration projects.

Gmail

Tim O’Reilly has deconstructed all the hoohaw over the new Gmail service from Google: The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It’s Bogus.

I’ve been trying out the beta for a few days and I’m pretty impressed with the features it has and with the quality of the links (sponsored and otherwise) that they discretely display when you view a message. Check out what O’Reilly has to say if you are still concerned about it.

The Quality of Your Indexers Matters

Came across these 12-year old stats recently:

Bad news I think…

1. If two groups of people construct thesauri in a particular subject area, the overlap of index terms will only be 60%.

2. Two indexers using the same thesaurus on the same document use common index terms in only 30% of cases.

3. The output from two experienced database searchers has only 40% overlap.

4. Experts’ judgements of relevance concur in only 60% of cases.

[Source: JAA Sillince, 1992, Literature searching with unclear objectives: a new approach using argumentation. On-line Review, 16 (6), 391-409]

I think that just goes to show that the quality and knowledge of your indexers (human or otherwise) is incredibly important.