REVIEW: "Byte Wars", Edward Yourdon
- BKBYTWRS.RVW 20031107
"Byte Wars", Edward Yourdon, 2002, 0-13-047725-7, U$24.00/C$37.99
%A Edward Yourdon
%C One Lake St., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
%I Prentice Hall
%O U$24.00/C$37.99 +1-201-236-7139 fax: +1-201-236-7131
%P 314 p.
%T "Byte Wars: The Impact of September 11 on Information Technology"
Chapter one, and introduction, draws a parallel between the events of
9/11 and the rise of Napster, noting that both involve "stateless
actors" with disproportionate power because of their involvement with
technology. Quite apart from the fact that this seriously overstates
the technical capabilities of Al Queda (as Marcus Ranum points out in
"The Myth of Homeland Security", cf. BKMYHLSC.RVW), the analogy seems
to be seriously strained. Yourdon also notes that the book is
intended as a lesson for system developers, as a reminder to provide
for system continuity or soft failure. The strategic implications of
9/11 are supposedly discussed in chapter two, but instead we have
random thoughts and unconvincing logic. The world of information
technology has *not* embraced information security or business
continuity, most of the national initiatives listed in the book have
subsequently failed, and privacy has, rather surprisingly, enjoyed
something of a resurgence in importance. (Oh, and Magic Lantern was
*not* a virus, Ed.) A simplistic and limited overview of system
security is given in chapter three, followed by vague opining about
risk management in four.
In chapter five Yourdon proves that he misunderstands emergent systems
by confusing the rapid response capability that might be expected from
a flat organizational structure with the unexpected and unforeseen
behaviours that arise out of a large number of units governed by
simple rules. In discussing resilience, in chapter six, there is a
good presentation of the fragility of efficient systems, but this is
not translated into practical advice. Yourdon's point about "good
enough" software, from his "Rise and Resurrection of the American
Programmer" (cf. BKRRAMPR.RVW), is reiterated in chapter seven, but
the process remains unclear. His material about death march projects,
from another book, is repeated in chapter eight, but any relation to
the main theme of this book is a mystery. Chapter nine is not a
conclusion, but a compilation of the summary points from each chapter
through the book.
Overall, the book has very little to say about system development, and
not much of use to say about 9/11.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2003 BKBYTWRS.RVW 20031107
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