Clay Shirky re: Healthcare.gov

In a piece on his blog titled Healthcare.gov and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality, Clay Shirky reflects on the role of testing, constant testing and a iterative design process…

One of the great descriptions of what real testing looks like comes from Valve software, in a piece detailing the making of its game Half-Life. After designing a game that was only sort of good, the team at Valve revamped its process, including constant testing:

This [testing] was also a sure way to settle any design arguments. It became obvious that any personal opinion you had given really didn’t mean anything, at least not until the next test. Just because you were sure something was going to be fun didn’t make it so; the testers could still show up and demonstrate just how wrong you really were.

The mismatch between technical competence and executive authority is at least as bad in government now as it was in media companies in the 1990s, but with much more at stake.

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