November 2, 2007
Things We Know We Should Do That Nobody Wants To Pay ForWhat the UK government just doesn't get about public transport is that it will never, ever break even, let alone make a profit.
The whole point of having trains, trams and buses that are clean, comfortable, affordable, safe and reliable is that we get to where we need to be, when we need to be there, in one piece and without our nerves getting shredded along the way.
Our economy and society profits from a good public transport system. It is an investment in infrastructure - like the offices we work in and the networks we commmunicate through. They don't, in of themselves, make us any money. The pay-off is further downstream, and you have to have the long-term vision to appreciate that, which is sadly lacking in UK government at all levels.
The same is true of some of the activities we ought to be doing as software developers - like learning, for example. Yes, it's true - reading an article about unit testing ASP.NET code doesn't, in of itself, directly produce working software. But developers who read more tend to know more, and developers who know more tend to achieve more in the longer term. But you have to have that long term vision to see it.
You have to see a room full of developers looking attentitively at a presentation on mock objects and not think of how much money this is costing you now, but how much money this might save you over the next year.
You see, some things we should be doing as developers - things that most of us know will bring longer-term benefits that will vastly outweigh their short-term costs - are, in of themselves, loss leaders. We should learn to take the up-front hit, and appreciate that we may have to continually shovel money into unprofitable activity A in order to double our profits from activity B.
Posted 3 weeks, 3 days ago on November 2, 2007