PermaLinkThe Right Metaphor: One Lane With Lots Of Different Cars
10:46:25 PM

Ed recalls the question that came up during Ask The Developers at Lotusphere, about the apparent contradiction between having multiple development tools and server products, yet saying that Lotus' strategy is no longer a two lane highway. The question drew laughs, but in a less friendly forum it would not. The question really points out the importance of picking the right metaphor. To Ed, Alan, and any other IBMers, IBM Business Partners, or IBM collaboration evangelists who happen to read this... Here is what you have to say when that question comes up again (and I'm sure it will)...


What was wrong with the two lane highway wasn't the fact that it represented two generations of products. What was wrong was that nobody believed that the two lanes would run in parallel forever. It was the wrong metaphor. It was wrong because it is counter to everybody's experience to have two lanes run in parallel forever. The two lane metaphor led people to believe that the Domino lane would stop completely sometime soon, or that the Workplace lane would veer off in another direction at some point and leave Domino in the dust. No matter how many times IBM said that that wasn't going to be the case, the power of the metaphor told people otherwise.


The metaphor now is a one lane highway, but it is a one lane highway with a bunch of different cars on it. We've always had multiple technologies for Domino development. Today you can develop for Domino using the C API, the C++ API, the @formula language, LotusScript, COM, Java, JSP tags for Domino, and more. That's one set of cars. Now we have multiple technologies for Workplace development, too, and that's another set of cars. You choose the car you want. You can pick a sports car with a seating for two, a 5 speed gear box, a convertible top and no trunk space. You can pick a mini-van with seating for seven, an automatic transmission, a built-in DVD player, and room to spare for a set of golf clubs and a couple of big suitcases -- not to mention all the other gear you can strap to the roof rack. You can pick a four wheel drive pickup, a luxury car, a sensible family sedan, and even a Hummer. We give you all those choices and more, and you can pick whichever car suits your needs the best. Whichever car you choose, however, we're going to get you there. The highway will take all cars to all the same places. The cars you're driving today will keep on going down this road, meeting whatever needs you have today. And we're putting more cars on that road, equipped to meet the needs we believe you're going to have tomorrow.

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Comments :v

1. Bruce Perry02/07/2005 10:22:41 AM


As long as we're redlining metaphors, I want one of those James Bond sportscars. Not the silly modern invisible ones though. The classic variety with the machine guns, smoke screens, oil slicks, ejector seats, and armor would be quite sufficient.

BTW, I'd consider a class browser to be an essential conponent on this car.




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