Archivists and Testers in the New World 2.0 Order

I’ve wondered why I am passionate about testing and record keeping. They are not two disciplines that seem to fit together. Lately, I’ve been reading and thinking and bouncing ideas off people I admire, and thinking some more. I’m not done thinking, but felt compelled to share the jelly.

The discussion about identifying and capturing Web 2.0 records is ongoing. Capabilities and requirements will fall out as we get smarter about policy and technical capability. Testing to ensure that these capabilities and requirements are met is important.

As a DoD tester, I have been thinking about how testing fits into an architecture that is built from the ground up to be flexible, scalable and interoperable. Old world end-to-end testing doesn’t make a lot of sense in an environment where there are many beginnings and maybe more endings. On the other hand, not testing a capability before it gets into the hands of our military men and women is criminal. People’s lives depend on being able to trust the tools as well as each other.

In the cases where capabilities are deployed, they are not always used as envisioned and sometimes when they are, incidents occur. We read this in the news, react by yelling at Congress and each other (via blogs and ezine comments, because actually writing a letter or picking up a phone is passe), then collectively shove it into memory recesses and go on about our lives. The archivist doesn’t. He or she captures the information about the incident and makes sure it is saved in a way that it can be found and reused…if only someone wanted it.

As a tester, I’m thinking that I do want that information. And the reason I want it is to evaluate ideas, to find ways to make them work better this time. (I’m working from the premise that there are few new ideas. Most ideas are themes on an existing premise, they are evolutionary.) I want to “pre test” new ideas against history. Not to naysay, but to find ways to make them better.

The archivist saves and protects the information, the tester retrieves and analyzes it, looking for past failure points and behavior that indicates strength and weakness of the execution/implementation. This information feeds into the process for designing capability using new technology and integrating that technology into the enterprise. Does this do away with the need for IV&V of procurement processes or after it is built Operational Test and Evaluation? Probably not, but it should make us change the way we look at testing.

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