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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Why is everything being declared Dead?

Why is everything in technology being declared dead these days?

The Burton Group got huge PR mileage last January when one of its 12 vice presidents smugly declared "SOA Is Dead." Bell-clangers throughout the blogosphere latched onto it immediately as if John Lennon had come back to life as an IT savant.

The only problem with the Burton VP's oh-so-keenly-insightful declaration is that it's not original. David Chappell made the same declaration in August 2008 at TechReady7, Microsoft's semi-annual internal technical conference in Seattle.

But it turns out Hurwitz & Associates made the claim in October 2007.

And Jeff Nolan of Venture Chronicles declared "SOA Is Dead" in a blog back in April 2006.

All of which led Robin Bloor to declare recently: "The People Who Think SOA is Dead, Are Dead."

Of course, SOA isn't the only thing that's dead. Other recent death sentences include:

Web Services are dead
SOAP is dead
Web Content Management is dead
Cloud computing is dead
JSR process is dead
Java itself is dead
IT is dead

It seems to me that declarations of this sort are the kind of thing a publicity-grabbing publicity grabber does to grab publicity.

I think the only thing that's dead is imagination and originality on the part of certain analysts, journalists, and industry figures who, unable to think of something more meaningful to talk about in speeches and blogs, take cheap shots at technologies and processes that are still useful, still used every day, and (ultimately) still quite able to fog a mirror.

What do you think?


  1. I think deathing ideas, projects, languages, enterprizes etcetera will never go away, but from many of such "Death of ..." lively discussion we can filter revitalizing points. My take on it -

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Clearly, computers are dead. =D

    More seriously: It's evolution. Ideas don't die, they're supplanted by something more fit, evolve into something new, etc. They'll always have value, even if it's only anthropological.

  4. I declare this blog dead!

    In all seriousness though, technology doesn't die (and it's a pity). It just becomes zombie technology that sticks around even though it should be dead. I dare any one of you who works at a big enough Microsoft shop to tell me that you don't still have Classic ASP code still lying around.

  5. I'm waiting for death to be declared dead! (Some people are actually working on that.)

  6. Anonymous8:49 AM

    god is dead

  7. "still able to fog a mirror" -- I'm sooo going to work that into conversation today...

    I think 'stagnant' might be a more appropriate term than 'dead'. It is not as final, and it better evokes the reality of the situation: the creative energy inspired by any technology tends to wax and wane. COBOL isn't dead, it's just no longer getting as many developers excited.

    At the moment there might not be as much innovation coming out of the Perl community as there was 20 years ago. But you still see the occasional spike in Perl job postings.

    Powerbuilder and ColdFusion are another example. They have never been taken as seriously as Java. They were both declared dead continuously for something like 15 years. And yet a passionate developer community kept on using them. ColdFusion in particular is still, miraculously, a marketable skill. A huge number of web applications for the US government are developed in ColdFusion.

  8. They would like you to think it is dead so they can rename it, repackage it and resell it. When I got into the business, "time sharing" was all the rage, stalwarts claimed that "timesharing" was dead, we don't hear that term anymore...but "timesharing" is alive and well...renamed and repackaged.

  9. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Nas told me that Hip Hop is Dead.

  10. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Let's not forget Paul Graham's Microsoft is Dead article. I'm sure we can add that to the list.

  11. Anonymous12:31 PM

    Programming blogs are dead :-)

  12. Declaring things to be dead is Dead!

  13. I'm no expert on SOA, but legacy systems and mainframes are still around thirty years after their heyday, right? Take this with a fifty pound bag of salt.

  14. Hi Kas,
    I think you're right. The article "SOA is dead" was sent around in my company only by the greatest morons, who never understood the many disclaimers made in the article itself. There's a German term for this kind of PR: "Scheißhausparolen", meaning sh*t-house-paroles. People can say what they want about SOA, but please be slightly original, at least a bit thoughtful, and don't give the morons a catch-phrase for mindless repetition.


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