My friend Eileen emailed me and lamented that, despite adopting some cool new software in her law office, WordPerfect isn’t playing well with that software. Her lamentations prompted me to email her the following:
In technology, as in most of life, you have to recognize when a once special place has become a hostile environment. When I was a kid I lived in what was a good neighborhood, but over time it became more ramshackle. There was nothing wrong with our house, or the neighborhood per se, but it became unsafe and my parents realized it was time to move out.
Moving to a new place, or to some new software, is disruptive.
But trying to pretend what you have is still great has its own downsides too. Novell Groupwise was a great email system. So was Lotus Notes. And Betamax tapes were indisputably better than VHS. So what?
Being better isn’t always enough. Hardly anyone I know has stuck with Lotus Notes, Groupwise or WordPerfect. There’s nothing wrong with those tools, except for one thing: they became marginalized. And in a networked world, where many parts have to talk to other parts, being marginalized is a very serious illness. Essentially it means death.
I have fond memories of WordPerfect, as I do the house that my parents lived in. But, unfortunately, my memories don’t make my computers work better.