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Letter from Bryan Sedwick
Received July 10, 2001

Daniel,

I read the comments you published at www.developerdotstar.com written by Scott, which have compelled me to this response.

Service Providers--across the board--like to be able to say things like "Don't blame me I am only the ..." or "If the marketing guys would not have oversold the product then...". Who is accountable? Who is responsible? If I hire Scott to do a job for me or my company, do I also have to hire another guy to manage or check-up on Scott's performance. I, the consumer, may not be qualified to do the job myself, which is why I would have hired Scott in the first place. Is Scott saying that developers cannot be relied upon to properly complete the task they have been assigned correctly?

What if we applied Scott's comments across other industries:

A Doctor loses a patient. He says "well I guess this guy should have eaten better or exercised more - I did all that I could". Is this true? Could the Doctor have done more? Could the doctor have made a mistake that would not have been perceptible to the unlearned patient?

A Doctor prescribes medication to treat a symptom that causes an allergic reaction in the patient. The Doctor says "well you did not tell me you were allergic to the medicine I prescribed". How would the patient know that he or she was allergic to this medication - especially if it was a newly introduced product? Maybe we could all blame the FDA for not having the proper testing methodologies and approving the drug. Let's tell my Grandmother that she has damaged her kidneys because she decided to trust (and pay) and "trained, professional Doctor" that improperly read information and said "take this and you'll be fine". How would she know any differently? I guess, according to Scott's philosophy, she should have gone to medical school.

How can we hold the purchaser of a vehicle responsible for the negligence of the manufacturer. I guess, based on Scott's comments, those people who died in Ford Explorers that had Firestone tires should have had a better design documents and testing methods before they purchased and then drove? How is the consumer responsible? Should the eulogies have included "John is dead because he did not properly test the roll-over tolerances of the vehicle or have specific, engineering-level knowledge of the precise combination of speed, pressure, weight and heat that would cause a tire to explode?" "If John had only taken one more semester of Driver's Education, then he may have possessed the required knowledge to properly handle an out-of-control vehicle and therefore saved his own life and the lives of his family and friends who should have know not to ride with him".

I go to a restaurant expecting to eat not get poisoned. Should I take a tour of the kitchen before I sit down to order. Should I conduct an investigation into each appliance and its maintenance schedule before choosing an eating establishment. Should I be responsible for checking each of the ingredients that went into the preparation of my meal.

When I pay for a service, I expect that service to be performed to the best of the ability of the chosen vendor. If I knew how to develop, then people like Scott would not be a necessary commodity. Unfortunately, not all of us know how to develop, cure, manufacture or cook and that is why we pay others to do that for us.

Someone has to be willing to accept the responsibility for success or failure. Blaming the customer is not the appropriate solution.

I, the consumer, am unwilling to allow a Developer, Doctor, Auto Manufacturer or Chef tell me that it is my fault.

Your column is designed for the Developer Community. It should not focus on how bad or how stupid owners and consumers are. It should not focus on what the company should do or should have done. It should focus on how to control the power that is given and subsequently wielded about by the development community. If the developer is unwilling to be accountable and take responsibility, then the World is in serious trouble.

The Developer should have mentioned to the company that his abilities were deficient and/or his methods questionable. Shouldn't it be part of the Developer's psyche to say "Hey! I am in over my head and you better get a 'second opinion'".

Who does Scott blame for Y2K?

Sincerely,
Bryan Sedwick

###

Aaron Wilmoth sent in this letter in response to Bryan's letter.