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Wed 02 Jun 2004
The Journey is the Reward
Category : Commentary/theJourneyIsTheReward.txt
One of the things that attracted me to Apple and the things it was known to stand for was its counter-culture leanings. The sparse, clean, Zen-inspired aesthetics, the marriage of form and function, art and technology - all these were things that appealed to me. As well as ideas like "The Journey is the Reward" - an oft-repeated phrase of Steve Jobs from his early years - which is also the name of a generally sympathetic book by Jeffrey S. Young, which I'm happy to see is still on my bookshelf.
We're starting a journey of some sort here. Ever since I started this weblog, I have been looking for a project I can write about that integrates all the things I talk about here. Most of the time, we have to make peace with IT departments, and a lot of these ideas are subversive, diametrically opposed to the traditional IT department stance.
So we're going to work on a project where there is no IT department involvement, where we're just going to focus on helping one business succeed through using technology in the way I've described here.
This project is for the Travelers' Hostel that I talked about in a previous posting. I was re-reading a couple of articles I wrote about a year ago - "The Mac Business Toolbox" and "How Businesses Could Use Macs". I hope to show how all these ideas come together for a real-world project.
We created a mock-up to show how information systems could be used strategically rather than as just a record keeping tool. These are just canned words, used by consultants, but there's a way to really show it. In an IT-department-mediated environment, we would be challenged on credentials, knowledge of buzzwords (like Flash, C++, development methodology, etc), and there's no way we could have gotten going. You can be sure that creating even a mock-up is hard work, and we worry about passing data between a bed reservation system and the accounting system, etc., and all those stuff from the technology angle. But, with the user, you ought to be talking about financial controls, and about getting a view into the workings of the business in terms of cash-flows, etc. through the accounting system - in other words, about the objectives of employing all these technologies, and what the user needs to know to run the business.
Part of the reason for writing this weblog was that I felt that it's important to try to argue that there's another way of looking at technology - that the traditional IT/MIS-departments are getting it all wrong. It's a difficult point to argue because the issues are subtle. That's why the weblog format is perfect for it. You can use it to raise a point, make an observation, and demonstrate the alternatives - and then come back again, cycle after cycle, until you've worn down the opposition. Or worn yourself out! But I believe, as always, that the Journey is the Reward. The important thing is to try. So let's move on and give it a go.
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