Sunday, January 25, 2009

Null results

Presenting novel ideas is seen as valuable in our scientific culture today, but investigations of what the boundary conditions or side effects are more hard to find. Research programs are started to find and establish new theories, but not too much appear on under what conditions those teories does not apply any more.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb states it quite well: "you cannot do anything with knowledge unless you know where it stops, and the costs of using it".

In IT not much effort is put into understanding the down sides the "improvement" will have. One way of seeing this is that it is not in the interest of the IT staff or managers to know the limits, since that could mean less work since if side effects were well understood, the people making the investment may not be all that willing to back a number of projects any more.