Why we fire fight … There’s little gratitude for prevented problems

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Allegedly, Twitter is going to implode and collapse. Already, I’m seeing the predictable comments about how “this feels just like the Y2K bug all over again.” Similar comments were made during the pandemic

The implication is that we are dealing with a hysterical, over inflated scare story or even a hoax. This is because back in the late 1990s, people began to warn that we were facing a huge catastrophic situation on 01/01/2000. A lot of computer programmes had used DD/mm/yy formats to record date information. All well and good until you hit 01/01/00. The computers would not be able to tell the difference betwee 1900, 2000 or even 0 AD. This meant for example that if you tried to calculate your age and you were born in 1974, then your programme would suggest you were -74 and not 26 years old

Now, some of the doomsday predictions included planes falling from the sky and nuclear power stations shutting down or even blowing up. Would that have happened? I am not qualified to answer on that.

However, the impact on technology would have been huge and caused massive disruption with potential for serious economic collapse at least

And most importantly, it wasn’t a hoax. I know because I was part of a team playing our small part in responding to the problem. That team included some incredibly gifted analysts and engineers who worked long hours to fix things. To be sure, there were people headhunted into highly paid jobs in consultancy as orgs began to panic. But most kept working for the same people for the same pay. Furthermore, they were often working on replacing old systems they had looked after. This meant they were not guaranteed long term job security.

The result of their hard work was that the crisis was averted. The problem is that now, people talk glibly about it as though it were a hoax. Instead of thanks, those involved in fixing the problem are accused and slandered.

So, on a personal note, if you don’t want to wind people like me up, please don’t talk about the Y2K hoax.

On a more general point, prevention is better than cure. However this requires a level if trust and building cultures that reject cynicism.

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