What Role Are You Playing in RPCD?

When you role play in RPCD, you could be standing in for either software, or a flesh-and-blood human being. As RPCD explicitly acknowledges, both are part of your final system.

A key insight of RPCD is that the distinction between these two entities is a lot less meaningful than we usually think. Most software is created to solve a problem that ordinary human beings are already addressing in some fashion. In fact, I might go so far as to say that this is true of all software. The quick exceptions that come to mind just take a little more pondering to map. Biometric scanners? Just a replacement for humans judging whether a person matches that photo on their driver’s license. RFID tags? Just making the human inventory team’s job easier. Firmware in high-speed switches on the internet backbone? Just a step or two removed from postmen and switchboard operators. Word processors and IMEs? Just a replacement for a transcriptionist. Signal analyzers for SETI? Genome sequencers? Protein folders for Folding@Home? Just substitutes for human researchers.

human researcher

photo credit: armymedicine (Flickr)

Even if you’re playing a role that you’re sure will ultimately be encapsulated in a tidy software abstraction, RPCD helps you remember that the problem that entity solves is ultimately a human problem. We don’t pay engineers the big bucks to make computers happy.

2 thoughts on “What Role Are You Playing in RPCD?

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