I am a newbie to quality assurance, but I can apply the ideas and concepts used in software quality to talk about my work as a publisher. In the software market, as well as in the publishing marketing, we have discussed the fundamental needs of verification (if we have built the product correctly) and validation (if the product is necessary for the users). Have we launched something in the heat of the action? Or have we focused on closed quality parameters? Sometimes the answer for this question is frustrating. It depends.
What book are we talking about? What software are we talking about?
I have completed the course Início rápido de testes de software (Fast start in software test, in English) by Iterasys. During one of the classes, Professor José Correia talked about the partnership between IBM and Microsoft to create an operational system. Concerned about the quality of software, on one hand, IBM put off the system launching to try to obtain the perfect software. Microsoft, on the other hand, decided to end the partnership and released their own system: Windows. Windows was not perfect, but it was done.
The pioneering initiative of Microsoft brought results that we already know. The “imperfect” Windows captivated users who did not change their routines when the stout system was launched by IBM two years after Windows’s launch. In publishing marketing, we have very similar cases. How many books written by YouTubers, coloring books, miracle morning style books, erotic books (similar to 50 shades of Grey series) had been released? People can contest the quality of these books a million times, but they cannot question their success. Not every book or software has been done for eternity.
Books and software (especially in Software as a Service culture) are made by people and for people. These products should be useful to the public. If we are thinking about the quality culture and if we want to build one solid and progressive culture, it is necessary to think about the expectations for each product. It is not possible to think in general quality.
Sure, I do not advise that careless revisions or weak tests are made. In the book Engineering Software as a Service: An Agile Approach Using Cloud Computing (2014) the writers Armando Fox and David Patterson brought the quotation by Gerald Weinberg that said: “If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization”. It is fundamental to think about it, but also to build a product meant to focus on the important things.
I guess that in the publishing market some of the review parameters are outdated (sometimes, to attend to reader’s demands. I can understand that many people in Brazil have problems understanding how fluid and dynamic our language is). Sometimes our revisions are plastered and focused on orthographic errors or artificial grammar topics.
What is important to software? What is important to a book? Which functionalities can we engage in developing without considering cost-benefit ratio? What makes sense to users?
Human work is precious and reflexive work will be increasingly important day after day. I hope that we can think about “quality” without mannerisms of perfection, instead looking at the beauty and imperfection of the stages of progress. I hope we can measure the risks and focus on meaning, and the imperfection of humanness which each truly memorable thing brings to us.
Written by Daiane Ascenção