Admittedly the Amazon Drone hype [http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/12/01/amazon-bezos-drone-delivery/3799021/] is not aiding my exhaustive (and likely exhausting) ‘doing it right is light-years better than doing it quick’ diatribe, but I still stand firmly by that mantra. It’s not petulance talking, it’s experience. However this is the population we serve. A population that seems accepting of the possibility that they, within the next few years, might very well lose an ear from walking directly into an octocopter’s blades. For what, you ask? Simply put, to receive their new razor, dog food or box of k-cups delivered to their doorstep within 30 minutes. Instant or near-instant gratification is our population’s expectation. This is the same public who expects that should, say, oh I don’t know, a promised website not work up to par upon rollout that the ‘fix’ needs to be immediate.
So our public accepts technology. Our public expects technology. Our public relies on technology. However, our public for the most part has no idea what goes on behind the scenes in technology. And that’s OK. Technology should be easy for the end-user. That’s pretty much the point of technology. But when technology breaks down, our users (the public in general) need to understand that it’s almost never as simple as switching out a battery. That’s why technology efforts like web sites and apps need to roll out right, the first time.
Fade in on the twelve minute video titled “Why Healthcare.gov came out broken” [http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/3/5169196/why-healthcare-gov-came-out-broken-video] to the vice chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee hammering in on identifying who is responsible for the website issues plaguing the Obamacare initiative, ready to point a finger, almost frothing at the mouth to single-out one individual to blame. Three immediate reactions from me. First, it’s too soon for this. What professional in their right mind, with any level of business sense, needs to focus now on who failed. First priority? Fix it. Minutes equal tax-payer dollars when indulging government officials in their hasty, nonsensical lines of questioning. My second reaction, spot on. Great explanation featuring government red tape stymieing each step of the process up to and including the vice chair’s diatribe. And my third reaction, man, the United States needs to hire a PR firm to represent technology.
Since I’ve been out of college, technology has been on an image roller-coaster ride. What started as a mystical, uber-nerdy field slowly evolved into a valued partner relationship with nearly all fields in supporting efficiency efforts and, finally, technology is so used and so integral that a consistent history of exponential deadlines being beat like a rug has created a user base with oftentimes impossible expectations. I get it. Yes. By all intents and purposes what we do in technology appears to almost be magic. So much so that our users sometimes forget technology is, in fact, not magic. The lines of code behind every application haven’t decreased, they’ve increased. In many instances, we have mastered the art of never recreating the wheel to a degree that sometimes even developers forget how massive each simple application is. So, now what?
I spent five years serving an institution I felt so strongly about that I morphed into a technology marketer, innovator, nationally-recognized song-and-dancer advocating for technology respect at every level, including state and local. I served on boards to (a) serve but also (b) to bring focus on technology. Yes, people now ‘know’ about technology, but it’s time to truly educate our nation on the amount of craziness that goes on behind the scenes in development and production. With increased respect and use of technology comes a natural increase in risk and loss. Downtime now equates to rapidly lost funds. The future is exciting for technology and sometimes it feels like we are living inside the movie Total Recall, but we need to remind everyone that this is real life. And our real life for near-2014 includes comprehensive impact with even a hiccup in technology delivery.
This is not Total Recall. Despite the coming onslaught of octopods.