Analysis Paralysis

With technologies such as the semantic web, RFID, more RSS feeds than you can shake a stick at and web services about to infect every facet of our programs, the future looks, well…automated.

But is it really that simple, can we simply say this does this and that does that. In my job a lot of documentation is required to manage IT projects through its entire life cycle. Words like analysis of success, deliverables, functional specification, project work flows, yada yada are used. But what does it all boil down to?


For something to be checked [or searched, archived, expire, start, exist] an object [or document, code, information, person] must be tagged [standardised, rationalised, locked down].

Standards must be developed, user guides for the user guides, workflows for the workflows must be created.

An example:
BISAC, a publishing standard (ahem) to standardize the electronic transfer of subject information.

However what about BIC codes, promotion of standards for electronic commerce and communication in the book and serials industry.

Oh dear. Two standards…BISAC (USA and Canada) BIC (ROW)

How about Atom vs RSS 2.0, 802.11B VS 802.11G, Netscape vs Internet Explorer, the list continues. Looks like the future is a little less automated.

Does History have anything to teach us? Indeed the industrial revolution required a large amount of standardisation to succeed. Much of 20th C. social thought has had a rather downbeat view of modernity. One of the more famous strands of this thought was via Max Weber: ‘Modernity is characterized by the increasing role of calculation and control in social life, a trend leading to what he called the iron cage of bureaucracy, Human beings enslaved by a rational order have become mere cogs in the social machinery, objects of technical control in much the same way as raw materials and the natural environment’

Still the Orwellian view of life often falls down on one simple fact. People are buggers. They can’t agree on things, lest of all how to control and declare things.

Life is organic, and thus the products of our creations inherit some of those innate organic tendencies. Computers crash, they do stupid things, they go mental, they die. Maybe its not such a bad thing that standards cannot be reached, isn’t this the human condition? Or more part of a wider perspective, nature. Once something is defined a natural opposite reaction occurs. Whether that definition is a political ideology, standard or classification. As in Quantum theory nothing is certain until it is measured, and even then the measurement may affect the outcome.

One phrase that I often used in my essays at Uni (mainly coz it was long): Omnipresent Layered Inherent History, every part contains the picture of the whole, where that whole resides is another Blog.

and beyond

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