Issue No.01 - January/February (1998 vol.15)
I found Ed Yourdon's essay fascinating in both form and content. The content agrees with something I have known for several years now: that the best of times would eventually trigger the worst of times. But the form is even more engaging because of Ed's underlying premise: that overall our technology is far from invincible and might ultimately undermine our efforts to produce that which best serves our users. That we would even consider this possible amazes me. The use of software to solve problems has been evolutionary and was, initially, almost completely driven by technology. At first, we were limited to what could be done with the early architectures, so we defined and redefined problems around those constraints. As the technology matured, the range of problems to which it could be applied grew. The technology is still evolving-at an incredible pace-and still doing so in a disconnected way. Chip, database, and communications technologies, for example, are evolving as mutually reinforcing knowledge masses in search of business problems to solve. This isn't all bad. Engines for change are ubiquitous and not always connected to the problems they will eventually tackle, but history does suggest that our early expectations about the problem-solving potential of unbridled technology should be relatively low.
Steve Andriole, "Software: The Good, the Bad, and the Real", IEEE Software, vol.15, no. 1, pp. 45-47, January/February 1998, doi:10.1109/MS.1998.646879