I found the following cartoon today on Reason.
If you’re not familiar with the situation, the US government rolled out a website, healthcare.gov, where people can go to sign up for health insurance which is mandated for individuals before the end of 2013 (not sure if that still applies or the deadline has been extended). The government released it at the end of October and it crashed due to so many people signing up for it.
They gave themselves one month to fix it and the website now works better, albeit with some remaining performance issues still outstanding.
I am posting this cartoon because I don’t agree with the sentiment, here is my interpretation of what this cartoon represents:
The user sees a website that has been slapped with a bandaid. The message is that the website is not flawless but instead is held together with quick fixes and therefore is reflective of poor design right from the beginning. The service still has problems, what a disaster!
For one thing, Reason is anti-government and they disagree with almost everything the government says or does (this is tongue-in-cheek but not too far from the truth) outside of their own views of what government should do.
But for another thing, a bandaid solution is not reflective of bad design; instead, it’s how code works. Almost all code that is a very large project is held together with patches, that’s why it’s called a patch. If Reason is going to make fun of healthcare.gov because it’s just a bandaid solution, they could apply this criticism to nearly any large piece of software, both public and private.
Rather than being a legitimate criticism, this is an example of Confirmation Bias (look at that – the government can’t do anything right!).
You may not agree with my political interpretation, but this is what I think.