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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

To the Editor

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 20 - February 16, 1995

We seem to be inundated with mailed fliers and articles in Spectrum about "Project ENABLE." It appears that the scores of folks who have been given fancy new job titles and big bucks to figure out a way to replace our aging central computing systems are desperately trying to communicate to those of us out here who must eventually try to use the product(s) they have been commissioned to develop.

Despite all these valiant efforts and high priced mailings (who say budgets are tight?) I can assure them that they aren't getting through and that those of us in the trenches who try to read their memos and who have attended their meetings are often just plain lost. Why is this process not working?

The recent Spectrum article tells us that "infrastructure teams are organized to work with functional offices and end users to implement a more robust working environment based on client/server technologies" and that they want to "emphasize the integration of application modules" and "devise techniques to integrate additional functionality into a more robust client/server environment." The February mailing of "The Enabler" tells us that "corroborating observation or other means of verification, such as review and discussion with members of the functional area of materials developed during the process analysis step, should also be exercised." At a meeting I attended there was serious and, I'm sure, profound discussion of "making the interface more granular" (or something like that). How can anyone view this as communication?

The process is failing because the "enablers" don't seem to be able to speak the language understood by those they are supposed to "enable." Rather than English they seem to speak some combination of "computereze," "educationaleze" and "bureaucrateze" with a politically correct accent. When they say that "the client infrastructure project is devising the key elements of an architecture aimed at providing efficient movement of electronic documents and the requisite approvals associated with those documents" just what the heck are they talking about? Does a "more robust client/server environment" mean that it will be easier or harder to do our jobs? Right now it seems like the "enablers" have little or no understanding of the jobs done by those they hope to "enable" and they lack the language skills needed to learn, and I can assure them that we "enablees" don't have the slightest idea what they are trying to tell us. They seem to be trying to establish some kind of robust client/server analog auditory interface with us and we are trying to talk to them, but it isn't working.

It seems to me that someone needs to hire an interpreter to provide the digital/analog interface needed to make this process work. For more information turn on your computer and type in a lot of fancy sounding stuff punctuated with a lot of back-slashes, colons and w's and select HELP!

Jim Marchman