New Year’s resolutions are for a year ahead, but with the start of a new decade it is worth looking a bit further.
How many of the software systems we use today will be around in 2050 — or even 2030?
This morning the BBC reported that NHS staff need up to 15 different logins to manage ‘outdated’ IT systems
and I have seen exactly this in a video produced by a local hospital consultant. Another major health organisation I talked to mentioned that their key systems are written in FoxBase Pro
, which has not been supported by Microsoft for 10 years.
Google have a particularly bad history of starting or buying services and then dropping them
(sigh), Revolv Hub
home automation, too many to list. They are doing their best with AngularJS, which has a massive uptake in hi-tech, and is being put into long-term maintenance mode
— however, ‘long-term’ here will not mean COBOL long-term, just a few years of critical security updates.
I’m working with David Frohlich
and others who have been developing slow, meaningful social media for the elderly and their families
. This could potentially contribute to very long term domestic memories,
which may help as people suffer dementia and families grieve after death. However, alongside the design issues for such long-term interaction, what technical infrastructure will survive a current person’s lifetime?
You can see the challenge here. Start-ups are about creating something that will grow rapidly in 2–5 years, but then be sold, thrown away or re-engineered from scratch. Government and health systems need to run for 30 years or more … as do our personal lives.
What practical advice do we give to people designing now for systems that are likely to still be in use in 2050?