Sunday, April 24, 2005

Transparency

I work in a library, and we use lots of commercial software -
lots of open source software also.

Being in meetings today, talking about commercial software,
I am struck by the lack of transparency in all the products we
are using.
When something does not work - there are no (documented) tools
that help us find out what is happening. Yet support was the
reason we bought these tools in the first place. Support generally,
though, in the real world, only kicks in when something is 100% broke,
not when some feature malfunctions to some degree.

Why is documentation so bad?
Why is commercial software so obscure?
Is this a desirable state? Is it useful to keep customers confused?
But, and this is a consequence of this lack of transparency,
people are very loyal to these products. My own opinion is
that people have learned how to tip toe around problems in the software
they have, and do not want new headaches, unless circumstances force
them to change.
The only hope for the future is
a) open source software
b) open protocols
c) open data definitions

Then there will grow up support businesses whose real business is
support, not software.
Maybe this has already happened around Linux - I am just not knowledgeable
enough.

(comment on this)

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