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Letters: Computing by Design

To the Editor:

Re “Setting Free the Squares” (Nov. 15), about IBM’s new emphasis on “design thinking,” which identifies a user’s needs as the starting point for developing a technology product:

Design thinking is “groundbreaking”? I think not.

The software development life cycle, a process that has been followed for decades, has as its initial task the identification and documentation of user needs, or requirements. So, nothing really new here.

And as an analyst who worked in the software development field for almost 30 years, I was putting Post-it notes in “parking lots” before a lot of the IBM new hires were even born.

Same old wine, brand-new bottle.

Bob Liddle Myrtle Beach, S.C.

To the Editor:

Your timeline “IBM’s Century of Innovation” missed the company’s largest contribution to modern computing: the development of the SQL database language in the 1970s by researchers in their San Jose Research Laboratory. It powers the information retrieval operations behind most websites and mobile and software applications.

For transactions like updating a bank balance and searching for the lowest airfare, SQL provides software developers a plain-English method to search and store vast amounts of data at high speed. Commands like Select and Update provide an abstraction that hides the mechanics of the underlying storage system. They allow software to be developed with greater speed and simplicity.

SQL has outlived a multitude of computing technologies and methodologies. Even after widespread implementation by Oracle, Microsoft and the open-source community, the essentials endure unchanged decades later.

David McCreery New York

To the Editor:

I applaud IBM’s efforts for design, but the article was an insult to many of the people who helped build previous products. To assume that we didn’t think about customer needs when the products were built is a gross exaggeration.

Jim Sloan Rochester, Minn.


NYT > Technology

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