Industry Unites Around Vague, Poorly-Defined Vision

by Leonard Richardson

Published on segfault.org 08/08/2000

Yesterday, CEO of Large Company introduced a gala event showcasing the company's—and, by extension, the industry's—new direction, known as Vision. The cornerstone of the evening was a seemingly interminable speech by CEO, which was fortunately livened up by the interjection of humorous video clips and vocabulary flashcards.

"We at Large Company have been at the forefront of computing since 1981," said CEO as his speech entered its third hour. "We led the drive towards the stored-program architecture, and showed programmers that there was a better way by pioneering the use of Turing-complete languages.

"This was Method, and it put our company on the map. We pushed Plan in the 90s, and when that failed to get results, we had Backup Plan. As the new millenium dawns, it's time to advance the state of the art and provide a road map to the future. It's time to provide not just a Plan, but a vision. We believe that Vision is that vision."

Third-Tier Celebrity was present to demonstrate along with CEO how Vision unites the previously disparate worlds of the Web, wireless devices, personal computers, servers, 3270 dumb terminals, poisonous tree frogs, PDAs, and string. Since a software demonstration might have given the impression that Large Company was going to release products along these lines, the demonstration was conducted by means of interpretive dance.

CEO outlined the principles of Vision as follows:

"It looks easy," cautioned CEO, "but there's a lot of Smoke to generate and a lot of Mirrors to erect before Benefits will be realized."

Already, CEO's three-step plan is being realized in documents submitted by Large Company to Standards Body for consideration as international standards. These include Proposed New Wire Protocol, Proposed New Remote Procedure Call Protocol, and Proposed New Chemical Structure of Table Salt. Standardization has always been a pet project of CEO's, and he took pride in pledging full support for his company's standards.

As is the custom, hundreds of "commercial licensees" were trotted out on stage like so many trained donkeys. These companies have pledged to license and resell Large Company's white papers (the only tangible products that will ever result from Vision) over a six-year period.

"Just a few weeks ago, I was a lowly lab monkey," said CTO of Biotech Startup. "Now, I'm on stage with Large Company and I'm being quoted in news articles. This is the power of Vision."

"It's time for bold leadership," said Minor Political Figure. "It's time for action. It's time for Vision." Figure had mistakenly thought he was addressing the GOP convention in Philadelphia.

"Croak," said a spokesfrog for the poisonous tree frogs of the world.

The press is buzzing about Vision, and for good reason. With no product ever scheduled to be announced, and a series of verbiage-ridden documents to be released every month clarifying the documents of the month before, journalists are free to write whatever they want about the project, knowing that their wildest speculation will eventually be borne out by some "leaked" internal document or other. With Large Company's competitors still offering initiatives that require time-consuming phone calls and fact checking, Large Company has positioned itself as the premiere source of column inches for tech reporters on a tight deadline.

But those competitors, many of whom had also signed up as comercial licensees in order to maximize their press coverage, are not about to take this move lying down. Flamboyant CEO of Slightly Smaller Company vitriously attacked Vision and all it stood for, simultaneously claiming that his products did the same thing as Vision.

"We've had all of Vision's features for years," said CEO. "Smoke, mirrors, benefits, phony standards, you name it."

In the end, though, it is consumers who will have to buy into Vision. And there, the benefit is doubtful. Studies have shown that only 0.031% of Americans read one or more white papers last year. Will consumers really benefit from "a road map to the future", especially in light of the fact that the future already arrives at the rate of one second per second? In this unpredictable industry, only one thing is certain: you'll be hearing more about Vision. A lot more.


This document (source) is part of Crummy, the webspace of Leonard Richardson (contact information). It was last modified on Wednesday, January 24 2007, 02:07:04 Nowhere Standard Time and last built on Thursday, April 24 2014, 03:00:05 Nowhere Standard Time.

Crummy is © 1996-2014 Leonard Richardson. Unless otherwise noted, all text licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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