[Web4lib] Getting catalog software vendors to make more useable software choices

Lars Aronsson lars at aronsson.se
Sat Jul 16 17:31:02 EDT 2005

Jenne Heise wrote:
> Have any groups or institutions compiled a list of user interface
> requirements?

No, of course not.  And automobiles don't come with timetables.

Buses and trains have timetables, and good quality in mass 
transportation means they're "on time".  But ask the passengers if 
they'd prefer that the bus is there "when needed" and then goes 
"as fast as possible" not making any unnecessary stops.  The focus 
on synchronized timetables is not at all related to the users' 
needs, but comes from inherent drawbacks of buses and trains.

The "software crisis" (see Wikipedia's definition) that has been 
going on since the 1960s is related to the fact that software 
developers have to meet "lists of requirements" instead of 
fulfilling users needs.  New trends such as "extreme programming", 
"agile development" and "rapid prototyping" try to fix this, but 
can do so only to some degree. If you want to sell a library 
system, you have to sell it to a library, and they are going to 
buy from a vendor that meets their (the library's, not the users') 
list of requirements.  If you have a better idea, you cannot sell 
it, because you don't sell library systems to library users.

Paved roads and bike lanes are also "mass transit systems", but 
where a bigger portion (the vehicle) is left to the individual.
A similar (dis-integrated) model for libraries could be achieved 
if the library published their MARC records for public download, 
so users could import them into a search system they run on their 
own personal computer.  (A different solution would have to be 
used for loans and reservations.)

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se

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