The trap of 2.0


Note to parents, before we start: if you don’t like exposing your children to grotesque displays of hipocrosy, avert their unspoiled eyes now.  Cause the train is pulling into the station.

I’m trying to remember when the concept of 2.0 really hit.  And by that, I mean the idea that version 2.0 of anything instantly renders the 1.0 version into complete and utter crap.  Pre-internet, the closest “versioning” we had came in the form of Detroit’s fall new models.  But the thought that the 1963 Corvette is in any way better than the 1962 Corvette will get you into a bar fight.  The fact that new models came along every year didn’t invalidate older years.

It’s not really the same in this Internet Age.  When a new version (or model of iPhone) is released, there is immediately a negative perception of the prior iteration.  Really?  You’re on a 4S?  Why?  All of a sudden, if you’re not on the latest and greatest, you’re technically the equivalent of a Bangladeshi mud hut village.

And it’s not that the new version may be wholly new and amazing (again, see the iPhone) – it’s just that the negative connotation of “old version” or “old model” is now so pervasive.  Ironically, the first time I can recall this really happening – with Windows 3.1 (my God, Windows 3.0 is so horrible, who would use it) – is now an example of the exception to the rule, with Windows 8 – where the new version is just so horribly bad that a sense of nostalgic appreciation for the older version emerges.  But it is not the norm.

And it’s a trap.  Most major software vendors in our arena (cough AutoDesk cough Adobe) have moved to an annual or 18-month software release cycle.  And why?  Go take a look at the curve that shows new feature introduction over time.  There’s a reason why the Microsoft Office releases are now mostly notable for their UI changes.  Quite often, the makers will build in forced obsolence in terms of backward compatibility, and so it doesn’t really matter than InDesign CS3 does everything you need it to, because CS6 doesn’t support it.

Maybe it is the Old in me, but it is hard for me to reconcile this growing cultural belief that new is good, old is bad, and a new version renders the old one irrelevant.  But I think I’m fighting against the tide.

For instance: I was on the phone yesterday with a vendor that was selling backup-to-cloud appliances.  The price for their solution was roughly double what traditional tape would cost, and I had some concerns.  I wanted to understand the full TCO for the product, convey concerns about time-to-restore from the cloud, etc.

What I got was a half-hour of “you’re a complete idiot for considering tape.  Why would you put old technology at one of your client sites.  The future is cloud backup.  Are you stupid?”

Seriously.  I’m not sure the word “idiot” was used, but the tone and verbiage clearly indicated that they were wasting their time having to explain something so obvious to someone.

So… am I?  When my cost for tape over 5 years is $50k, and my cost for cloud is $100k, am I an idiot?  There are pros and cons to tape.  There are pros and cons to cloud backup.  In the phone call, however, I was told several times that tape “is the past” and therefore completely junk.

And that’s the trap.  No technology solution/decision is made in a vacuum.  What’s the environment like?  Budget? Need? Expectations? Bandwidth? Etc. Etc.  When you get into the trap of saying “This is new, it must be what you need”, you’ve lost the plot, as my English friends like to say.

So be careful. I’m not saying you can’t drool over the S4 when you have an S3 (cough), but don’t allow this trend of instant obsolescence overly impact your technology decisions.  I for one would be very happy to drive around in that 62 Vette.


3 thoughts on “The trap of 2.0

  1. There still seems to be a lot of users of acad R14 out there, so I guess they must be idiots according to your vendor. We often do get caught up in the need for the latest version. In our office I have usually waited a few months when the latest version comes out so I don’t have to deal with all the issues that seem to crop up but with Revit 2014 our users wanted it, after all its paid for so why not use it (we are on subscription).

    By the way, our trash can that we had for years in our kitchen at work got replaced by one that has a door that opens when it senses someone is near. I guess the old one doesn’t work any more. Hey you’ve got to get one or else become an “idiot”.
    I prefer to old one! It works and really had nothing to break or batteries to replace. Progress I guess!

  2. Extending the 2.0 argument, the question would be whether your ‘new deprecates old’ model will go from software and tech gadgets over to homes and cars. Could a 24-month cycle work for housing? Maybe 60 months. As for cars, people used to trade them in every two years, and would again — even if they lose money — if they believe that ‘new’ is a must-have, and, like smartphones, their current car has suddenly, magically, become unworthy crap.

    This could rev up our economy significantly, into the greatest bubble of all time. At some point, the preponderance of 20, 30, 40-year-olds will overcome the ever-fewer seniors like me. We are increasingly so out of it. Last year, I passed on buying a new Dodge van… after renting one for a week to see how I liked it. My 1994 van, it turned out, had better visibility, better mileage, less confusing controls, and is just more pleasant to drive.

    Housing is somewhat different. Maybe tract homes could be designed to allow for five-year makeovers — thorough interior and exterior remodels — to profit from the new ‘old is bad’ psychology. We’ll see.

  3. A further comment, on re-reading the 2.0 post today — I think you’d definitely want the 1963 Corvette, the only year they made the split-window coupe. But then! That 1962 convertible was a beautiful car. Absolutely a bar fight over this one.

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