Posts Tagged ‘Development’

Veruca writ large

December 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Conservative talk-show host Jim Bohannon often jokes that Americans “are the only society in history that can stand in front of a microwave oven yelling ‘hurry up’.” We’re an impatient bunch, it seems, but regardless of our tiny skills at patience we’re doomed in our developments.

With each technological development we’re quick to move the goal posts back. The car has GPS, but what about satellite radio? So the seats have warmers but what about the steering wheel? “Blessed” by a constancy of technological development we’re never satisfied and ever-wondering on the next greatest feature.

And yet perhaps this is less a detriment and more an engine of development. Is our impatience actually a virtue? Necessity, says the English proverb, is the mother of invention but how many of our inventions come directly from our needs? Viagra and artificial sweeteners are just two examples of items found on accident. One’s desires for solution often leads one to another perk for profit.

Often we admonish lack of patience as a sign of being spoiled. Always wanting more or being disappointed smacks quite often as a denial of the benefits at work. The tablet’s running slowly but just months ago its benefits were desires. How quickly we can move from wanting something to receiving it and wanting more. The goal is ever-moving and perhaps will never rest. Impatient as we are one wonders whether virtue hides inside this trait. Veruca wants it all and so do we. Are we better in our wanting? Do desires spur development? Spoiled on and on.

Locks and Maturation

March 24, 2014 Leave a comment

One model of maturation is the lock system for boat travel. Via the system, a boat moves through a series of water chambers that allow it to move directly over land despite a lack of level surface. No longer dependent on a flowing current, the boat can move quickly by flowing through the system of locks.

slowly, the boat moves further in its journey by progressing through each channel. In each chamber the boat starts near the bottom but the rises higher and makes its way forward.

Applying this model to maturation, consider the young person working through stages of experience. A child learning to drive will begin with basic steps of adjusting mirrors and the interior of the vehicle. Gradually more advanced skills are explored and conquered so that in time the individual who begins without any experience becomes capable of moving the vehicle at an incredibly rapid rate of speed.

As the boat moves through each channel its progress is individually tied to status. Likewise the child’s development is tied to personal progress. Difficulty at a certain level means the student does not progress.

This model of maturation is helpful in understanding the ideal progress of education. Learning is inherently an individual process and any system that presumes progress disregards reality. No reason exists for a student to be considered below or above grade level.

On the boat it is the sailor who is in charge of moving the boat towards its destination. For the student this guiding force begins as the parent but gradually becomes the individual. With maturation comes both the capability and responsibility to direct one’s progress.

The Benefits of Beta

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Via a community of dedicated users, software developers benefit from a system that avoids a demand for perfection and allows a slow progression of improvement. This system of releasing “beta” versions allows for a gradual evolution and benefits both the producer and user of a product.

Under this system, a user’s software is updated on a needed basis. If a product has a fault or if a development team has developed an improvement, an automatic update can be established and the update is performed. This is an ideal system- one that exists solely in the software field and one that creates a system of multiple beneficiaries. Just as the user benefits from improved software, the developer can tinker with adjustments and rest assured that the user base is a source of endless feedback. Such a system has rendered immense improvements in the technology culture and should be recognized as a system that other industries should foster.

This “beta culture,” or world in which developers and users work together to improve a product, is one of immense potential. The motor vehicle industry would be significantly improved if users could update the vehicle’s software every six months in order to improve vehicle performance or to simply to alter minimal details affecting non-critical factors of using the vehicle. Can the radio’s interface be updated to make it faster or easier to read? Can the vehicle’s odometer be calibrated to allow for a more accurate analysis of efficiency? With some development these possibilities could be developed and used as significant selling points.

Beyond the benefits of avoiding the need for perfection, the “beta culture” would allow developers to consider user feedback and improve future productions. What better market research exists than the feedback of users with direct experience with previous models. If asked what I want in a new product, I will likely think back to my experiences with a similar product, muster up some improvements and then suggest my mind’s notion of an improvement of what I want. Such a process diverts the responsibility of the developer from producer to consumer. A better process is one that asks better questions. The key is to ask the user what features of the current product don’t work and what things could make Product X better. As a user I can tell you countless things that are wrong with Product X. We need to move beyond the notion that Product X is produced and distributed and then Product Y goes into development.

The “beta culture” allows us to release Product X and then work towards Product X.1. Producers from all industries need to adjust to create this system and switch the paradigm from serial production to a goal of improving what already exists. No longer do we need to build a new trap or re-invent the wheel; instead, we need to improve what we have and let our minds focus on meeting the expectations that have yet to be met.

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