The right to vote is sacred. It’s essential to live in a free society and to pick a winner on The Voice. Unfortunately, the right to vote is under attack worldwide, and bad actors have used tech to do it. Russia interfered with the Brexit referendum in the UK and with elections there, Ukraine, France, and famously here in the United States, even still as I write this, by hacking voting machines and voter registration databases and manipulating social media.
Blockchain. I can probably stop here. Merely having the word on the Vidya site will increase blog readership more than if I posted a deleted scene from Black Panther. There are already thousands of thought pieces explaining Blockchain, how it will revolutionize commerce, how it will transform the Internet. There is even a company whose decision to add Blockchain to its name led to a 600% stock surge and a financial windfall for its CEO!
I will be speaking at Tech Talk DC on October 25th in Arlington, Virginia, on Here’s What’s Trending In Software Engineering. Whether you build software, manage projects, or run enterprises, you’ll discover techniques and technologies that will give you an edge in the years to come. If you saw me speak on this topic at Code Writers Workshop in the summer, rest assured this talk will be different. First, I have added some wrinkles to the original list you will likely find compelling.
The Code Writers Workshop is taking place outside Washington, DC on June 9th with the theme “Software Leadership in a New Era.” The speakers are a diverse, distinguished array of industry leaders who have done great things around the world. The keynote speaker, Kara DeFrias, was Director of UX for former Vice-President Joe Biden! The surprising thing is they’re letting me speak too. I have the honor of speaking on the topic “Here’s What’s Trending in Software Engineering.
News broke recently that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) contracted the development of an iPad app called the Randomizer that eliminates any hint of profiling by airport security by simply directing travelers according to an arrow onscreen that randomly points left or right. That’s it. No, really. An arrow that points left or right. At random. Over and over. The cost? $1.4 million. Yes, that’s dollars. Naturally, the Internet sprung into outrage.
As I help to revolutionize how government buys IT by teaching federal acquisition professionals to avoid spending hundreds of millions for deliverables that don’t work, I have stressed that the best way to maximize value and save taxpayer dollars is to understand the principles behind agile software development and to construct contracts accordingly. Incentives (also called fee) have long been a significant part of government contracts–including contracts for software application development.
I have written quite a bit recently about my longstanding passion for improving the way government procures technology and manages technology projects. The administration has taken many significant steps toward that goal, and I have played a small role in the process to this point. But that role is about to get a lot bigger. As I wrote before, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)–the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States– challenged us to improve how government “builds and buys digital services.
Every (American) football fan knows that it is at least as important to know the playbook as it is to be blessed with speed, strength, and endorsement deals. After decades of failure with technology projects, including of course the high-profile debacle that was the initial rollout of HealthCare.gov, the United States government has taken steps to solve the problem. One of them was to create its own U.S. Digital Service Playbook, a guide to best practices for making technology work in government.
I spent most of my career building software for U.S. government clients as a contractor, and one thing I noticed is just how bad the government is at running software projects. Take every bad thing every commercial software project ever did in the 1990’s, and it was built into the government software development process. It’s like modeling every high school after Bayside High. Eventually, everyone else caught on with the infamous rollout of HealthCare.
Please take a look at my latest column for Government Computing News where I discuss why Kanban might be an easier agile alternative for government IT projects having trouble with the rigor of Scrum. Just to give you an idea, here is the unedited introduction. Over the last decade, many have written about what agile software development offers to government IT. Their success has led to a GAO report, for which I was a contributor, on making agile work in the federal government and the U.