Sunday, March 23, 2008

We tried that

I was speaking to a conference in San Diego last week. At the end of a very interesting demo of a state of the art application generation tool, there was a Q & A session. After a number of good questions, someone at the back of the room asked, "Isn't this like CASE?" A little perplexed I responded, "This is what CASE would have been 20 years later." To which the fellow at the back of the room said, "But we tried CASE."

But behind this dialog was a failure to understand the evolution of technologies, expecially important ones. Just because a technology didn't live up to over-hyped expections doesn't mean that it won't ever work. Major technologies often take a long time to perfect. That was true of the steam engine, that was true of the electric light bulb, that was true of the Internet. If we are going to make the most of our technology investments, we need to keep history in mind.

One of the problems with computer technology is that the Industry is always over selling. Not surprisingly, most new technologies fail, at least the first time round. In general the industry always overestimates the short term and underestimates the long term effects of a new technology.