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Subject:
From:
Jacob Sparre Andersen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Jacob Sparre Andersen <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Wed, 14 Feb 2001 19:39:57 +0100
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TEXT/PLAIN
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Michael:

> I think most people wouldn't have a clue what quality
> meant in situations like this.

I think people have a rather good, but possibly somewhat
limited, idea of what quality means when it comes to
software. The problem is ...

> - the computer can't do anything at all unless you are willing
>   to pay dearly

... that they believe it is impossible to make high quality
software.

> Consider all the ramifications of the "I Love You"
> virus, and also of the endless Y2k discussions. How
> would a lay person really understand what was really
> going on?

It would be rather hard, but certainly not impossible. I was
in a panel discussion on the national Danish radio [1] with
a "sales engineer" from Microsoft and a computer scientist
just after "I Love You" hit, and I think we - with a lot of
help from the two journalists - managed to give people a
fair idea of what went wrong. But sales people just keep
trying to talk themselves out of the corner they are in,
even when it should be impossible.

> BTW - this is the local DC NPR station, and this show
> has unusually well- informed panels and listeners. One
> of the callers to this show asked whether there is
> danger in eating food that's been heated in a microwave
> even. How on _earth_ can the tech industry ever learn
> how to speak clearly to the public?

By trying - and trying - and ...

And probably most importantly by working with journalists. I
work a bit with the journalists on the radio, and give
"interviews" on Open Source topics (slightly more often than
"once in a blue moon"). It helps a lot seeing/hearing how
journalists turn and cut a story to make it worthwhile for
the listeners.

And as always:

   Expect your audience to be intelligent but
   uninformed on your topic.

(one thing I learned as an undergraduate)

Jacob

1) As an Open Source representative. Ada doesn't get as much
   press yet.
--
"The current state of knowledge can be summarised thus:
 In the beginning, there was nothing, which exploded."

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