Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Perils of Certainty

We all like to feel secure, so people who act and speak with certainty about the future are compelling. Doctors who say with conviction that we will live longer if we eat more beetroot. That bananas can stave off Alzheimers (if we eat 20 a day). That spinach is a cancer-beating superfood. Or was it lettuce...

The UK property market was the same. Prices in 2009 would continue to fall said the experts. Except they went up.

I was researching some stuff about trends for the iPad and came up with an article called "The Apple iPhone Doomed to Failure" written just as the iPhone was launching. My favourite quote is the pithy signoff "Apple iPhone. Enjoy the limelight because it won't last long." Being wrong is OK, but the hubris here is on an impressive scale.

So what are we to make of the bullish statements around Flash, HTML5, iPads and slates in general, mobile form factors, app stores, WiMax and so on. Everyone seems so sure.

In the heritage sector we have to take a long view, and we have to do so knowing that every penny has been hard fought for and has to account for itself. So that increasingly means portability, open standards and interoperability. Want to reskin the app - no problem. Expose your data to some other museum with a bigger website - yup. Share the code or build on someone else's work - absolutely. Agility is a word I use a lot nowadays.

Don't be taken in by certainty.

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