Keep Trying

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Technology Churn

According to the Wikipedia, technology churn refers to the cycle of replacement of existing products, methods, programming languages, etc. with newer ones. But as Mark Schuman points out: "Churn is a somewhat derisive term. It implies cosmetic change for the sake of the transaction, like a stockbroker "churning" a client's portfolio".

You can not fault companies like Microsoft for coming out with new products with improved features. However at the end of the day, was the hundreds of dollars you spend upgrading from Office 97 to Office 2000 to Office XP worth it. Very few companies can answer yes to that question.

When it comes to development technologies the problem is even worse. Systems development is expensive and if you already have your plumbing installed: ie database, accounting, critical applications, do you really want to waste your money retooling your plumbing. Small and medium businesses are wasting their valuable money as they upgrade from ASP to ASP.NET and soon to Longhorn.

I recently saw that Joel Spolsky shared my frustration. A recent comment of Joels on Micro-Scoble's blog included these thoughts:

The theory of fire and motion is that in war the best strategy always boils down to doing two things: (a) firing at the enemy (forcing him to keep busy responding to the fire) and (b) moving forward. Large companies often have a lot of success firing at small companies by creating technological imperatives that the small companies have no choice but to support. As a specific example you will remember, think how much work had to go into SOAP support in UserLand's products, not because UserLand's products needed SOAP, but just because Microsoft decided that XML-RPC wasn't good enough.

Microsoft is getting better and better at this. After all that work running around porting our applications to VB.Net and WinForms, we're suddenly hearing that Longhorn is just around the corner and we're really going to want them to be in XAML, and no matter how much people say "WinForms is The Path to XAML," well, that's like saying Chicago is on the way from New York to Los Angeles and if you want to move from New York to Los Angeles you should get a job, house, and family and settle in Chicago first.

The ensuing discussion on Micro-Scoble's blog centered on whether Joel was dissing blogging. The heat got so intense that Joel had to plead in Robert's comments:

Please don't make this out to be a Joel vs. Blogging debate; that would be absurd, as I have had a blog longer than any of you :)

The bottom line is that although technology churn costs your company thousands of dollars it can't afford, don't ever say anything bad about blogging :-)

What I would really like to hear is:
Robert Scoble addressing the issue of technology churn from Microsoft's point of view.
Joel Spolsky discuss whether he feels that blogging is really cost effective and the real cost of tech churn.
Dave Winer discussing his thoughts on tech churn and what was going through his head on the original Soap spec team, as he saw the easy to implement XML-PC evolve into the complex and costly Soap spec.