My last open letter to Ed Yourdon : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Dear Mr. Yourdon,

I'm not sure it's possible to prove you were wrong about Y2K. Your writing was far too careful. During your climactic performance for the U.S. Senate, you managed to ask only for better information. You said "Sayonara" six months before the big event. You managed a delicate balance. You were concerned enough to satisfy most of your Y2K following, but you avoided the inflammatory rhetoric of others... particularly in other venues.

I have consistently defended your right to enter the marketplace and "sell" Y2K. While I think software development metrics were misapplied to remediation, I'm willing to acknowledge your expertise in software far exceeds mine. On the other hand, your views on Y2K were shared by only a tiny minority of the IT world.

Your book, however, was never targeted to the IT community. IT pros were probably far too busy reading and writing code to peruse it. Your tome was aimed at a popular audience who didn't know much about remediation or the economics of a ten-year depression. (This may be one reason people are upset... they considered you a gold-plated expert) Your book succeeded wildly. TB 2000 made you a "cult hero," if you'll pardon the phrase.

Your book opened the door for your video and MLM... other ventures also meant for the general public. You never forced anyone to buy your Y2K line of products. Caveat emptor.

People are mad at you because you are a convenient target... and they just don't appreciate how carefully you crafted your book. After all, you never promised we'd have a ten-year depression... you said we MIGHT have a ten-year depression. Unfortunately, some folks just aren't careful readers.

And you did have good company. There were worryworts in the State Department, CIA, U.S. Navy and the FBI. Of course, the key acronymm for all of these agencies is CYA. After recent intelligence failures no one wanted to be caught with their pants down about Y2K. I don't blame you for not considering this in your assessment. After all, your expertise is computer software.

We can apply the same lesson to the economics in TB 2000. You found enough negative information to form your conclusions... but again, your background is in software. In your defense, I respect economist Ed Yardeni and he found enough to worry about a global depression. Yardeni was willing to put an actual number on the chance of a depression... five percent. Unfortunately, you were never quite that specific.

I do agree that Y2K expenditures were necessary... and they seem wildly successful. Almost enough to make one consider "rewriting" the book on metrics. (humor)

Oh, and for those smart, serious people who were wrong with you... some of them have actually admitted their error. Yardeni has modified his recession prediction down to 30 percent and, well, de Jager dropped out a while back. Based on your article, you seem content to wait and see if we stumble into the ten-year depression down the road. With every passing day, however, Y2K becomes less relevant to an economic downturn than structural weaknesses.

I am sorry about the nasty email, however, I have trouble believing you do not understand the hostility. Please, Ed. You've spent enough time on this forum to understand how strongly people feel about Y2K. (life and death) And unless you have no observational powers, you might have notice some were within a stone's throw of completely unhinged. Remember the reaction to your "Sayonara?"

You've always been civil to me, Ed, and I thank you. I even purchased your book many months ago... though I did give it away after reading it. Writing about "potential" social and economic collapse is a dangerous pastime... particularly for a software expert. Hell, it's dangerous for an economist as Ravi Batra discovered. (And lest you think I feel qualified, I do not.)

Most informed observers expect to battle Y2K glitches all year. It may time, however, to renounce the ten-year depression scenario... at least as caused by Y2K. You might be well served to join Yardeni, de Jager, et al, and help those still waiting for the meltdown to move on.

The people who read your book were consenting adults. Your "what if" style, however, may have been a bit too clever... and the "Beirut" comment didn't really help. Were you responsible, Ed?

Perhaps not.

[See Flint's post for the declining decline in my opinion of Yourdon.]

-- Ken Decker (, March 03, 2000


I'm upset, because I wanted Mr. Yourdon's autograph in the book I bought. I am willing to pay post, both ways. It is a heritage, I leave my children and grand children. It was a "snap-shot in time". I will not doom the man for his alert, there were others "alerter's" from other walks. I still want an autograph.

-- Autograph (, March 03, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ