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Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Simply a Matter of ...

Be wary whenever someone starts with that line, and avoid doing it yourself if you can.  It is rarely every simply one thing.  Even a simple fix can require three times as much effort as you thought or even expected.  A former colleague of mine is a brilliant Ph.D Linguist and computer scientist.  He and I together have developed some really cool natural language processing software in the past.  He would often finish a dissertation on the latest algorithm he had developed with the phrase "The rest is a simple matter of programming."

And of course, for him, programming was simple, because that wasn't what he did, that was what I did.  Of course he developed algorithms and wrote code, but not the way we'd eventually have to deliver it to the customer.  Those issues were not his problem, and it truly was a good division of labor.  Which brings us back to my main point.  Whenever someone (or even I) am about to say, "It is simply a matter of ...", we are likely doing one of two things:

  1. Oversimplifying the effort involved because we don't understand the effort where it is performed, OR
  2. Forgetting about other important details of what we eventually must deliver to the customer.
It is rarely ever as simple as what we thought, even when we discover something new.  When it is always that way in interoperability, my work will be done.


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