Lodahl's blog: We don't burn witches anymore, or do we ?

24 June 2007

We don't burn witches anymore, or do we ?


This weekend was midsummer. In Denmark we have several traditions on this day. I was asked to prepare a speak at the party where I participated in. This made me think about why we, in some occasions don't ask questions, but just do what we are expected to.

Every year on midsummer night, we burn a fire and on top of the fire, we put a witch. Don't worry, it's not a real one, just a model. This is a tradition from ancient times, where witches where actually burned on a fire -alive. The prosecution was usually performed after a very short and unfair trial. The witch was accused for doing something unnatural or maybe something completely irrelevant. Maybe there had been sickness among the cattle or maybe there had been a dead born child. Everything needs to be explained at that time, and sometimes the only explanation was an imprecation. 'Who could throw a curse ?', people would ask. And very often the answer was random, and in some cases, the accusation was simply a result of some disagreement between the population.

When a person was accused of being a witch, nobody dared to stand up and reject that. If they did, they might be accused too. So such an accusation was almost impossible to survive. The accusation could for instance come from a religious leader: the Minister.

So, if the Minister at the local church could explain something that had happened, by saying, that a particular person had thrown a curse, everybody would either believe it, or at least accept the decision. It would be too dangerous to stand up against the Minister to support the
accused.

Today this kind of religious trial and prosecution are not performed in our part of the world.

But don't we still use the same way of thinking ? If a highly respected person speaks for or against a course, don't we believe what he says ? Don't we sometimes just accept things, because we assume it's right ?

I believe we still do.

When the Danish Parliament made the decision to implement two standards for exchanging documents in the public sector, they assumed that it will be easier and cheaper if a Microsoft supported solution was chosen. Or at least, if a Microsoft solution is available, the decision will be accepted by the crowd. They didn't make a decision based on knowledge but on an assumption. And perhaps thats understandable but it's not acceptable.

1 comment:

Jesper Lund Stocholm said...

They didn't make a decision based on knowledge but on an assumption. And perhaps thats understandable but it's not acceptable.

So when you are saying:

"Approving OOXML will greate a vendor lock-in"

"Microsoft is the only company that will be able to implement OOXML"

... as a reason for being anti-OOXML, I could just as easily say:

"They didn't make a decision based on knowledge but on an assumption. And perhaps thats understandable but it's not acceptable."

Remember, it is hard to make predictions - especially about the future.

:o)