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Y2K Was All Hype?

Watching David McCandless’s Data Visualization talk, he does a great job of both data and showmanship, but (as you can tell my the title) there was something that bothered me.

Y2K was a factual issue; it was known and understood over a decade before, and the hype around the date was needed in the final two years in order to get action moving.

It is because of that hype that budget was expended.

It is because of that budget that the engineers of the world were tasked to react.

It is because we all did such a good job that these various billing and control systems didn’t randomly stop. Indeed, I finished my final deliverable, pushed it out, and dropped straight into a drivers’ seat for a 2-hr icy drive to meet my buddy for New Years. I got there just before the countdown.

We all know that Y2K was a real issue, and that it turned out OK; the part that so many seem to forget is that budgets and people were needed to effect this smooth changeover. This wasn’t a natural disaster like an earthquake or comet striking the earth, but a man-made issue with man-made solutions.

Many of us were part of that man-made solution. We worked very hard. We don’t want medals, but for the love of your internet and billing systems and lights that turn on, how about not implying that “it was nothing”, that “all the hard work that engineers and scientists and project managers put in was a sham”.

ps: for your lack of appreciation, you friggin fax-loving luddites, bite me

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