You 2.0: Versioning Happens

April 25, 2007 at 4:45 pm | Posted in Analyst biz, Fun, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As readers may be aware, I’m not enchanted with the current fad of throwing “2.0” at the end of every term. It just seems too easy as a platform for structuring a conversation about how something has changed, what was in 1.0, what will be in 3.0, how you’re a Luddite if you’re not with us on 2.0, etc. Someone asked about Search 2.0 the other day and, while I hadn’t heard that term before, I have no doubt I’d find a bunch of people talking about it if I Googled it.

But then another thought occurred to me … Craig Roth 2.0. I Googled “You 2.0” and got tons of responses (29,000 to be exact). Many are related to the Time magazine cover or other ways of referring to whether you are using Web 2.0. Some are those emailed jokes about “husband 2.0” and such. But I also saw sincere personal entries about people reinventing or versioning themselves. Treating oneself as a product to be versioned has its illuminating appeal.

Versioning oneself is nothing new. If I was a film maker, I’d probably be thinking in terms of sequels (Craig II: The Empire Strikes Back …). If I was an author I’d think in terms of chapters of my saga. But content-related versioning seems to refer to measuring the progress of your story rather than the progress of you. I like the way software versioning doesn’t inject the story as a refraction point and how it accounts for major and minor releases, which is a better analogy for life (and, as I argue, for the Web as well – who says we just hit 2.0000?).

Simplistic numbering schemes abound: 1.0 for childhood, 2.0 for college, 3.0 for workplace, etc. Or just age – when I was halfway through my 25th year I was CR25.5. These lack explanatory power, however, and sidestep the burden of value judgement that “.0” places on one to indicate that a significant and discrete set of improvements has taken place. What’s the point of the exercise without this judgement?

Maybe I was 1.0 as a self-employed software developer, 2.0 as corporate code jockey, 3.0 as manager, 4.0 as analyst? If my identity is anchored to my profession, that makes sense. Or maybe I’m 1.0 as a child, 2.0 in college, 3.0 living on my own, and 4.0 married? This better reflects the stages of life.

Looking back at what stages I’ve been through and judging retroactively which changes turned out to just be a point release (like going from 3.0 to 3.1 or 3.01) and how I knew when there had been a major versioning is interesting. But what’s more enlightening is looking forward – asking myself the same questions I’d ask a software vendor about the next version of their product (tongue planted firmly in cheek):

  • Is your next release going to be a major (“.0”) version or just a minor enhancement?
  • What features can I expect in the next release?
  • There have been some complaints with the current version (performance problems, unexpected behavior, poor jazz piano improvisation, etc.). Are those issues going to be addressed in the next release?
  • When is the next release expected?
  • Do you have a beta of the next version that I can see before it’s released to the public?
  • Will there be any migration difficulties and support for people using the current version?
  • How do I submit change requests for the next version?

Of course, who is to say versioning myself means I have to act like a product manager? It tends to happen on its own whether you notice it or not. To paraphrase an old saying: “versioning happens”.

And maybe I shouldn’t make the assumption that the numbers have to keep increasing. The software industry needs to keep upping the version numbers the way Pepsi needs to keep coming out with new flavors. But as people, is it OK to get to, say, version 6.24 and then just stay there? There are a lot of customers who continue to use very old versions of software because it works just fine and they see no reason to change for the sake of change. There’s something reassuring about a piece of software that really was built so well in the first place that it can be used for years without support and just do its job. And something just as reassuring about a person that has reached not a pinnacle, but a comfortable place that offers them all they want and remains a consistent rock to those around them.

Well, I’m not contemplating a major version change at the moment. But minor ones are in the works. And hey, versioning happens.

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