This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

success factors for new systems

The 2008 book Here Comes Everybody - The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky refers to an essay by software engineer Richard Gabriel that "contrasted two programming languages, one elegant but complex versus another that was awkward but simple … the language that was simpler would spread faster, and as a result, more people would come to care about improving the simple language than improving the complex one." (p122)

The actual essay is here:, but you may find it a combination of complex and awkward (his rambling style will be no surprise to those who know programming languages and understand Gabriel's preference of LISP over C++). Let me simplify and adapt the points he makes:

- a system that is simple and meets much of the functionality necessary will be preferred to a complex system that meets almost all the requirements;

- a system that is simple will be incrementally improved over time to meet additional requirements, using crowd-sourcing - that is an extensive user base will contribute ideas to improving the system;

- a system that is complex will not be widely used, and over time will lack user contributions towards improvement.

Thus we could have expected that 2/1 would have many adopters, and that the system would then be improved over time (e.g. support doubles, BART, Bergen raises). We could have also expected that complex systems would have few practitioners, and that the development, "play testing", and "battle hardening" of complex systems would be paralyzed. Complex systems, regardless of how elegant, will remain mostly on the shelf, more theoretical demonstrations of bidding approaches than applied methodologies.

This establishes the success factors for a system:
- significantly more effective than the popular systems, but can be far from perfect
- simple
- easy to adopt.

If these three characteristics are met, and the system is available in some readily accessible form (book, on the net), then it will eventually have a growing following, that will adopt, improve, and succeed with the system. These will be the winners.


Post a Comment

<< Home