Gosh, I love writing headlines because they can say so much and so little at the same time. Today’s blog makes a terrific case in point. It refers to the recent Fiasco award for 2009, chosen by an anonymous Fiasco Awards Team, which was in turn sponsored by the Catalan Association of Telecommunications Engineers (apparently this is a one-time thing, so it’s neither fair nor accurate to link the Fiascos only with the Catalan Association of so-on-and-so-forth). At least one other source describes the Fiasco as a kind of “worst IT product” designation in its reporting, but closer examination of the Association’s own description of the Fiascos reveals there’s a bit more at work here than simply recognizing “worst in show” performance or capability.
What a Fiasco represents is a product, service, or idea from any sector in information and communication technologies that winds up as a complete and total flop. Here’s a quote from the afore-cited Web page that bears the title “The Spirit of the Fiasco Awards.”
Technological advance is not a straight path. Despite the economic investment, intellectual efforts and hopes invested on it, it often happens that instead of achieving a successful product, a profitable company, a new useful service or an interesting development through it, we just end up with a real Fiasco in our hands. But both success and fiasco are a part of the same process of leaping forward, head and tail of the same coin. The first, we celebrate, from the latter, when the initial shock is overcome, we learn, and in addition, they tend to be very funny.
To me this award is more synonymous with “good ideas gone spectacularly bad” or perhaps even “it seemed like a good idea at the time” than it is with a “worst in class” designation. Though there are plenty of others who will tar and feather Vista with bad reviews, bad marks, and even bad cess, I think it’s fantastic that an IT organization would seek to find humor in making such awards. Lord knows there have been days when I’ve chased Vista’s tail all over the landscape when a little humor would have been more than welcome. And so I can appreciate and embrace the idea of the Fiasco much more than something more curmudgeonly in outlook and intent. After all the kvetching about Vista I’ve slogged through in writing this blog, it’s great to find something that’s more on the tongue-in-cheek side of the street rather than the vitriolic rant side instead.
Here’s how Vista acquired the 2009 Fiasco award. In response to a survey, 6400 individuals registered on the Fiasco site, and completed a ranking poll to choose the winner. With 5222 (or 81.6%) of respondents choosing Windows Vista, it swamped the other competitors for this award. These included OLPC (One Laptop Per Child, the second place finisher), Second Life (third), Google Lively (4th), and Mobuzz (5th), though numerical breakdowns for these other contestants aren’t readily available.
Tonight at dinner, I’m going to raise my glass and propose a toast to my favorite Fiasco–namely Windows Vista. I urge you to do likewise, at your first opportunity.