e-Talk Radio: Daughtrey, Taz, 31 October 2000


months, three years, whatever, that if they cut corners it will come back to haunt them. And I think there are classic cases of that happening over and over again. That people don't realize a little bit of forethought, a little bit of preventive action, a little bit of appraisal of how they're doing is so much better than rushing out there and then having to apologize and patch things up and literally be haunted by the Ghost of Software.

Carol: Right. Now, do you think…In thinking about the Internet, I guess everybody in a way can be a programmer. And anybody from…Any of our listeners driving home, any of the listeners that happen to be on the Internet, that everywhere it seems you turn there's "free Web pages," "make your own Web page." You don't need to know programming. And I know in industry, in business, a lot more users, a lot of people who are not necessarily trained in computer science now have everything open to them. They can link up to anything, and I think that there's some potential dangers there in terms of hackers getting in. What's your take on just opening up the Internet so that everybody can become a programmer?

Taz: Well, we used to call this end-user programming. And what we meant was that we would give the person that wanted to have access to some information or some application the ability to sort of roll their own, to make some modifications or to actually do the programming. But it was usually a pretty private thing. They were doing this for themselves or for a small audience. Now, as you say, people are posting a Web site, or they've got a home page, or they're providing information, and it is quite the case, as it really has always been, that there's very little barrier to entry into programming as an occupation. We'll argue about whether it's a profession or not. That's part of the claim of talking about the Journal of Software Quality Professional and the "professionalism" involved. But as an occupation, as something someone can do, the barriers are even lower. And it's certainly the case that now that you're making yourself visible, you're sharing something with the outside world, just the pure fact of the embarrassment of it not working right has got to be a concern. And then as you say, it you're providing a service, or you're making something accessible, and there are ways that it could be misused, mishandled, whether it's a security breach or not, there's a lot more vulnerability. And I think that the barriers to entry in programming have almost disappeared. And that while it's a wonderful thing, I know in my home state of Virginia, there is a standard of learning, in terms of expectations of what school children of different ages will be able to do. And I've forgotten whether it's sixth grade, I think, that creating your own home page is the competence that we're expecting of upper elementary or introductory middle school students. So we're really saying we want everyone to be able to create, of the sort of thing that you would call programming. But as an actual occupation turning into a profession, I think we have to be concerned that if everyone has that power, not everyone is properly trained or understands all the consequences of doing that job in a way that at the very least would be embarrassing to them if they did a poor job. And maybe could have some very haunting consequences.

Carol: Right. I'm

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