Nunamaker Jr., J. F. (1992). Build and learn, evaluate and learn. Informatica, 1(1), 1-6.

Nunamaker laments the “void in academic publishing” concerning systems development. That void exists due in part ot IS researchers not paying attention to it, and in part to the long time it takes to develop systems (Nunamaker’s example: chemists “can run 100 titrations in a morning;” we IS researchers can’t create 100 operating systems in a career).

But could it be that the paucity of research on this topic also lies in the fact that we are studying commercial products, and that much of the information about the development of these products is kept under wraps as proprietary knowledge, or trade secrets? How can we do the research Nunamaker craves if Microsoft’s developers can’t talk to us and if we can’t access their source code? For our philosophical jump of the morning, maybe to promote research in systems development, we also have to advocate the wider adoption of open-source software!

Composition note: Nunamaker concludes his article by practicing what he preaches: he gives a brief review of the development of his own “information system” — in this case, his new journal. This summary reads like what he asks for with regards to systems development research: don’t just tell us what works; build something and tell us how you built it so we can understand better what it was created to do and whether it meets those goals.

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