[FoRK] Re: S.Y.S.T.E.M. - Simple Yet Scaleable

Wayne Baisley baisley at alumni.rice.edu
Sat Nov 6 21:17:07 PST 2004

> Thanks to everyone for their help and insights.  I used Wayne's 
> refinement of my mnemonic:

Happy to contribute a few bits, though I was merely remembering the argument 
from Dick Gabriel's "Worse Is Better".

>     Simple
>     Yet
>     Scalable
>     Technologies
>     Embrace
>     Murphy
> as the basis of a talk I gave to an OS Design class about "real-world 
> system design principles".   Here's my main talking points -- would love 
> to hear whether this jibes with your experience:
> Myth #1: Efficiency & Elegance Are The Goal
> Reality: The Goal is Sustainably Satisfying Users
> Myth #2: Usability Comes From the Interface
> Reality: Usability Comes From the Architecture
> Myth #3: Good Design Avoids Failure
> Reality: Great Design Anticipates Failure
> Myth #4: Engineer Time is the Scarce Resource
> Reality: User Attention is the Scarce Resource
> Myth #5: Focus On What Users Can Do
> Reality: Focus On What Users Can Ignore

I think the W-I-B line would go something like:

Reality: The Goal is Sustainably Capturing Marketshare
Reality: Usability is Incidental to Simple Implementation
Reality: First-to-market Design Will Have Flaws
Reality: User Attention Can Be Remarkably Cheap
Reality: Ignore What Flaws Users Can Work Around

> Note that in this context a Myth need not be totally false, just 
> incomplete.

"Myth" reminds me of old Doc C's (Gilbert Cuthbertson's, Rice) PoliSci mantra: 
Myth, Power, Value; his way to analyze political situations.  What is the myth 
accepted by the group?  What sway does it hold?  How does it benefit them?  It 
need not be false, of course.


"Post-modern thought requires that we pay attention to what is not said, to 
the silences in discourse.  One situation where we encounter silence of a 
particular kind is when we are faced with accommodating in daily life the 
mandates of two (or more) irreconcilable values.  In the face of such 
incommensurables, we often create myths, which hold competing values in a 
tension of temporary resolution and direct our attention elsewhere."
Dvora Yanow, "Silences in Public Policy Discourse: Organizational and Policy 
Myths" <http://isis.csuhayward.edu/dbsw/publicadmin/dyanow/22MYTHPO.pdf>

More information about the FoRK mailing list