Software That Lasts 200 Years

Dan Bricklin suggests that “we need to start thinking about software in a way more like how we think about building bridges, dams, and sewers.”

The world is different now than it was even just a decade or two ago. In more and more cases, there are no paper records. People expect all information to be available at all times and for new uses, just as they expect to drive the latest vehicle over an old bridge, or fill a new high-tech water bottle from an old well’s pump. Applications need to have access to all of the records, not just summaries or the most recent. Computers are involved in, or even control, all aspects of the running society, business, and much of our lives. What were once only bricks, pipes, and wires, now include silicon chips, disk drives, and software. The recent acquisition and operating cost and other advantages of computer-controlled systems over the manual, mechanical, or electrical designs of the past century and millennia have caused this switch.

I will call this software that forms a basis on which society and individuals build and run their lives “Societal Infrastructure Software”. This is the software that keeps our societal records, controls and monitors our physical infrastructure (from traffic lights to generating plants), and directly provides necessary non-physical aspects of society such as connectivity.

What we build must last for generations without total rebuilding. This requires new thinking and new ways of organizing development. This is especially important for governments of all sizes as well as for established, ongoing businesses and institutions.

Selling Enterprise Software

Ed Sim (a VC) has some advice: “Think seed and harvest – lower price points, more volume, lots of upsell over time. Think of software models with leverage – hosted software and modular software which can be resold, OEMed, and/or appliancized (if that is a word).”

WiMax will take time

News.com quotes a report from Parks Associates and writes:

Despite a lot of recent attention, the wireless broadband technology WiMax is years away from wide use–and will take root in Europe and Asia before spreading to U.S. shores.

More than 7 million subscribers worldwide will get wireless broadband access from carriers selling WiMax services by the end of 2009.

WiMax is radio technology that promises two-way Internet access at several megabits per second, with ranges of several miles. Backers of the technology believe it can challenge DSL and cable broadband services because it offers similar speeds but costs carriers less to set up, since installation doesn’t require roads to be torn up.

The up-and-coming technology is expected to be particularly useful at getting broadband service to remote areas economically or physically out of read of conventional wired networks. WiMax will probably find its first success in Europe and Asia, said Parks Associates senior analyst Michael Cai.

Companies selling WiMax products and services will find fertile ground in developing countries, where the need for voice and data services is hampered by poor wireline infrastructure.

India could take the lead in building out the WiMax industry, given the very limited legacy of alternatives.