“Always make decisions based on what you know…”
A few years ago I received this excellent advice from a very successful businesswoman I worked for and I have tried to always follow it.
When I drive in a car in Manhattan I always look at the traffic on the street I am on before looking to switch to another avenue. If I “know” that 6th ave is moving at an average of 1 block a minute, unless I receive information that 8th ave or 10th ave is moving faster, or I “know” from prior experience that this is the case, I remain where I am and get to my destination in a reasonable amount of time.
The question remains: “How do we come to know things?”
It is all very well to make decisions based on what you know if what you know is up to date and based on the very best possible information. The problem is we are creatures of habit. We also like to attach meaning to memory and familiarity that has little or no basis in fact. For instance, I, despite my prior ramblings to the contrary have a belief that taking the west-side highway is faster than any of the west-side avenues because it is a highway. My experience when taking this highway shows me that in fact, the highway is often slower than say, 10th avenue, and by taking it I am impeding my progress in getting myself and any passengers to the destination intended. I am however, often found, moving at a snail’s pace on my precious highway, angry passengers beside me, cursing my bad luck.
–hint: ‘luck’ is *not* knowledge based–
I see the same kind of behavior exhibited in technologists who, once they get a certain idea about a technology, stick to that impression despite evidence to the contrary.
Sometimes, there are practical reasons for the adherence to a particular solution, such as the fact that they only last year invested 3 million dollars in the technology they cling to and to change their attitude or exposed belief would mean admission of a grave mistake and possibly the loss of their position in the company.
Sometimes, there are historical reasons for the solution-hugging, such as prior success and familiarity that means starting something new with that technology requires almost no learning aside from the business domain.
Sometimes, there are social pressures that cause an individual to pivot away from new intriguing solutions and side with what a particular leader or sensible seeming majority prefers.
In my opinion, only recent experience with a technology that shows success in achieving meaningful criteria, provides the knowledge vital to include such technnology in your basket of options.
As a proud employee of GigaSpaces, I have the pleasure to rattle the mental cages of many people throughout the world with what appear to be radical concepts and (potentially at least) highly disruptive technology – I am now referring to the Space-Based Architecture and linearly scalable infrastructure offered by the use of our middleware. When people are presented with the facts surrounding the use of the GigaSpaces solution, they see with their own eyes the improved throughput and continuous availability and resiliency, and they get excited. For many, what they “know” has just changed. To these people, I offer my best advice,
“Always make decisions based on what you know.”
To those who to date have not had the successful knowledge transfer and remain with their tried and true and socially acceptable solutions, I say, “Risk, Reward.” Get educated in as many of the available solutions as possible. Step out of your comfortable shell long enough to learn what is possible in the innovative world of the data-grid and allow the Kool-Aid to take effect.
Kick the tires of this new sports car and see if the triple wammy of:
1) reliable and super-fast state management
2) dynamic service provisioning and recoverability
3) collocation of events, processing and information into a Spring-based, Java, .NET, and C++ friendly processing unit
– doesn’t offer you a quicker way to your technical destination than that well understood and familiar yet often disappointing “other” you cling to with such remorse.
You can always be last to go with the better technology, but don’t expect much success if you make it a habit. Curiously, one of the perhaps loose yet highly relevant definitions of insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting different results.
P.S. To learn more about GigaSpaces and perhaps be taken out of your comfort zone in the process check out this page filled with links to great info on what is possible and how. You can also see me and the GigaSpaces CTO Nati Shalom, presenting at QCon next week in San Francisco.