The banquet for the ER conference took place in the Vasa museum. The Vasa is a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628 that sank in his inaugural trip barely after it left the hairbour.
Even if nobody was actually punished for the fiasco, there is a consensus on why the ship sank (and no, there was no iceberg around 🙂 ): the design of the hull was wrong. In short: it was too high and narrow for the weight of the ship’s guns (the Vasa was one of the first ships with two gundecks and the first one with guns of the same size in the two decks). At the time, building ships was more of an art based on the experience of a ship builder that a complete science. And in fact, they realized that the ship was unstable due to this design mistake but only when the ship had already been built and therefore it was late to fix it. The first day of “deployment” those suspicions were confirmed and the ship quickly sank. Had they taken the time to start by drawing and analyzinng the blueprints of the ship, Vasa (and all its crew) would have had a much better chance to survive their inaugural trip.
Does this story sound familiar? Almost 400 years later and we are still struggling with the same problem: software that is not modeled and only when we are closing to finishing the implementation (or worse, only once deployed) we realize that either it doesn’t work properly or it doesn’t do what it was supposed to do.
Let’s see if one day we learn the lesson and once and for all appreciate the value of modeling (and simulating / verifying /validating those models) the software-to-be before writing the first line of code! Otherwise your software will sink as the Vasa did.