August 04, 2004
Thinking ahead

Dan Bricklin: Software That Lasts 200 Years (via Espen):

[...] human societies also create infrastructure that are built once, then used and trusted for a long period of time. Such infrastructure includes roads, bridges, water and power distribution systems, sewers, seaports and airports, and public recreational areas. [...]

By contrast, software has historically been built assuming that it will be replaced in the near future (remember the Y2K problem). [...]

Computers and computer software have been viewed as being valuable for no longer than common short-term durable goods like an automobile or sometimes even tires. In accounting, common depreciation terms for software are 3 to 5 years; 10 at most. Contrast this to residential rental property which is depreciated over 27.5 years and water mains and brick walls which are depreciated over 60 years or more. [...]

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.

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