Lotus eaters

Voice Card  -  Volume 15  -  Paul Card Number 16  -  Mon, Jul 16, 1990 7:51 PM

This is ONE OF 2 responses to Vol 14 John 11 ("No choice but to choose")...

Now I'm confused. Are you saying that I am a lotus eater in a gilded cage?

I should explain the reason for my earlier note. As you might guess, it relates to my occupation: in the computer industry, one is barraged by choices. Should I use Pascal or COBOL? A VAX or a PC? Centralized or distributed? A relational database management system, a hierarchical database management system, or "flat files"? And so on.

Increasingly, certain of these decisions are made *for* the programmer, in the form of accepted industry standards. Thus, we know to use OSI for the network, SQL for database access, MOTIF for the user interface, and POSIX for operating system calls.

Now my application can call your database without requiring coding changes to the database or any existing applications which also use it, and NONE of the applications may even notice when the backend database machine is swapped out for a newer model - maybe from a different vendor.

A typical, reasonably complicated application these days may have a dozen or more of these decisions made for it (or, more properly, made for the application developer). If any of you non-programmers are still following this thread, take my word for it: programmers are *grateful* that many of these choices are made for them.

Before I get massacred I must hasten to add that computer standards are not ALL peaches and cream; there can be a significant downside to standardization. But that's a topic for another discussion.

As for that gilded cage: seldom, if ever, have I seen it. John's got me looking, though.