Why this blog?

| July 4, 2006

First, I miss writing.

Back in the 1980s and into the early 1990s, I wrote constantly about information technology—roughly 150 articles and product reviews in a little over ten years. I had columns in a series of magazines (The Space Gamer, Computer Gaming World, Softalk for the IBM PC, BYTE, Turbo Technix, Macworld) and actually earned a full-time living as a writer from 1984 through 1989. I’ve done four books since then, but only a few articles after ending my writing for Macworld in 1991.

Second, I have more to say now.

For most of the past 11 years, my professional focus has been mostly on why information technology (IT) projects succeed or fail. I have been brought into corporations to review large-scale IT projects and make recommendations; occasionally I’ve been asked to help get the project back on track (assuming it was ever on track in the first place). I’ve also seen my recommendations and those of others ignored and have seen projects involving tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars slowly crash and burn.

In addition, since 1999 I have served a number of times as a consulting or testifying expert in litigation that involves information technology. I have read through literally tens of thousands of documents from disputed, troubled or failed IT projects, have interviewed the people involved or read their deposition transcripts. In addition, while I worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, I reviewed information regarding 120 such “IT systems failure” lawsuits over a 25-year period and wrote a white paper categorizing most of these cases into a handful of patterns.

Such failures—internal or external—cost corporations and government agencies billions of dollars each year. And yet most of them stem from a small set of core issues that have been well-documented in the IT literature for over 30 years. The name of this blog stems from the quote from a story by Edgar Pangborn shown over in the left-hand column; that quote pretty much sums up my feelings about the IT profession. However, the title of the blog itself (“And still I persist”) indicates my own unwillingness to give up on IT as an engineering discipline.

Third, I have other things to say.

I know the power of public discourse, and I welcome the opportunities opened up by the web and the blogosphere. I am a political junkie, a student of history (especially military history), and a firm believer in intellectual honesty.

Sadly, that means that I have become more and more estranged from my own party (Democrat) since first registering as such some 35 years ago. I have typically characterized myself over the years as a “Scoop Jackson Democrat”, but few people under 50 know that that means, so the phrase “Zell Miller Democrat” probably serves just as well. Sheer stubbornness and a lingering distrust of the “stupid wing” of the Republican party have kept me from changing parties up until now—that plus hopes that the series of election defeats and setbacks would cause the Democratic Party to reinvent itself. Unfortunately, the reinvention instead seems to be more along the lines of the Democratic Underground and The Daily Kos, and I want none of that.

Fourth, I want to join in the discourse of civilization.

I have a firm belief in the value of reasoned discourse. The web enables that to a degree unprecedented in human history. I’ve got my own two cents’ worth to throw in, and I’m willing to see whether my comments have value in the marketplace of ideas.

And, as I said, I miss writing. ..bruce..

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About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

Comments (2)

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  1. Evil Bruce says:

    Oh yeah, finally he starts writing. Thanks for making this my fault too!

  2. sandra says:

    I have only one correction, and one added comment. First, you’ve ALWAYS had more to say! And that’s one of the things I love most about you.

    Second, I was unable to fill in the request for “website” above because, even though–besides you–we have at least two sons capable of designing a site around the domain we already own, and even though THIS blog has been created, our family website sits weeping and alone somewhere in internet outer darkenss, undoubtedly wondering what it did wrong to be so long relegated to such a lonely fate.

    But no pressure!