Comment to Emflix – Gone Baby Gone

Comment to Netanel Ganin’s Emflix – Gone Baby Gone , Code4Lib Journal Issue 33, 2016-07-19.

“Enthusiasm is no replacement for experience. This article describes a tool developed at the Emerson College Library by an eager but overzealous cataloger. Attempting to enhance media-discovery in a familiar and intuitive way, he created a browseable and searchable Netflix-style interface. Though it may have been an interesting idea, many of the crucial steps that are involved in this kind of high-concept work were neglected. This article will explore and explain why the tool ultimately has not been maintained or updated, and what should have been done differently to ensure its legacy and continued use.”

Bravo! Every single development process follows a similar path, but unless you are involved you don’t know about it.

The developers will rarely tell the story. Most prefer to talk about their successes–that is, they talk about the final version of their successful projects (to be even more precise: they focus on the positive points of their most successful projects and rarely mention the bad points)–and finally, they almost never talk about the ones that wind up in the trash can, with all the distress those caused.

Such attitudes are understandable because it is painful to acknowledge and analyse problems, or it can be politically unwise to let others know. But there are consequences. Many of the conference papers we read or the articles published about a project, should be considered more as advertising than an unbiased critique.

The author of this paper has risen above all of that, and I have nothing but praise for him. Even though I don’t like failure, my experience has been that I have learned even more from failures–my own and others’–than from successes.