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Re: [ontolog-forum] Quality

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Jack Ring <jring7@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2010 10:22:04 -0700
Message-id: <A868F028-6AD1-432B-BA82-96524F136F3F@xxxxxxxxx>

On Dec 16, 2010, at 12:43 AM, Matthew West wrote:

Dear Jack,
Well actually I had decided that your twisting of my counter-example was so transparently desperate that it did not even warrant a reply, and Chris was doing an entirely adequate demolition job. But if you insist...
Quality as binary only works when there is a clear binary specification that you can say something meets or does not meet. Software is rarely that simple. If we assume a piece of software has no bugs that prevent it from functioning at all, it is usually the case that it is still less than perfect in the way that it performs and supports the business process that the business wishes to use it for. This rarely prevents the software from being used, but typically increases the effort in terms of work-arounds that the business has to employ, i.e. it increases the cost of ownership. Given several software packages that nominally support the same business function, they will vary in the degree to which these work arounds are necessary, and thus vary in the cost of their use.
Business people will consider that these systems vary in quality, and if you tried to tell them that quality was binary and because they all met some nominal specification they had the same quality they would think you were a quality geek and off your rocker.

On Dec 16, 2010, at 2010 12:43:41 AM MST, Matthew West wrote:

MW: What is called for is being able to distinguish a binary situation from

a non-binary situation. The original quality work of the distinguished

gentlemen you mention was around the manufacture of mechanical parts for

which a specification could be created which they either met or did not. It

was simple. If it did not meet the spec you did not think of using it, it

was scrap. Not everything is as simple, and certainly not software.

Thank you for this. 
It is an eloquent description of why software, after 40 years of Software Engineering, is still the lousiest artifact ever devised by mankind. 
A simple lack of belief in  and dedication to Zero Defects(tm). 
If nurses dropped infants at the rate software people commit errors society would put them all in jail.
Fortunately, a growing number of software engineering efforts now heed the quality/six sigma gurus (instead of the sick stigma view of quality). 
For whatever reason you find it necessary to disparage the messenger. So be it.
I will simply make sure that those who might consider pursuing the development of formal ontologies are aware of your view of quality. 
Caveat Emptor, indeed.
Jack Ring
ps. regarding your use of "perfect" is that a binary?

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