The Stuff I Didn’t Talk About

The black hole that was NaNoWriMo kept me away from blogging regularly, which means there were plenty of rant-worthy stories that went uncommented upon. The most noteworthy, of course, was the rather disastrous rollout of the new healthcare.gov. And it was, indeed, a disaster.

Most of the good zings have already been zung at this point, so there’s not really much more to say. I do have two thoughts on the matter, though:

Anybody that started playing World of WarCraft way back in late 2004/early 2005 will understand the nature of what went wrong. Setting up server architecture and infrastructure to handle the massive amount of traffic such an endeavor is going to get is not easy, no matter what talk show hosts and pundits might like to say. Blizzard Entertainment learned that the hard way, as have many other technology giants. It’s not something you can whip up on a WYSIWYG editor like I’m doing here on WordPress (and if you don’t know what that acronym stands for, don’t talk to me about how easy it is and how it can be done in 45 minutes).

It’s not just a matter of changing one line of code. The ways in which one small change can cascade into numerous failures is nothing short of amazing if you’ve never seen it firsthand. Fun fact: I did some bug testing for a piece of database software one summer during high school. It was absolutely incredible to see how doing something as simple as setting a line of text into italics could cause an entire column of data to collapse in on itself like a neutron star.

That being said, the previous example is a video game from a video game company. The product on offer is virtual dragons and the slaying thereof, which is not a service that is necessarily vital to one’s life (unless you’re an addict, I guess). When we’re talking about health care, it’s a wee bit more important to get it right on the first try. Am I saying that the government should be held to a higher standard on this issue? Yes, yes I am. Get it right on the first try. The stakes are too high to faff about for six months until the servers are fixed, which is about how long it took Blizzard if memory serves.

In conclusion, it’s not easy to launch a website of this magnitude and get it right on the first try. Anybody who says that it is easy is either arrogant or has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. They still should have gotten it right on the first try.

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