What exactly is a Y2K expert???

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

In a recent thread about de Jager's most recent screwy-Louie quotes, someone asked the question: "Isn't it just possible, POSSIBLE I say, that this Y2K expert knows a little more about what is going on then you wannabe experts?"

Now, what exactly makes a person a y2k expert? I know of anyone who has earned a PhD. in Y2K at MIT (or any other institution of higher learning).

I know a geek who is absolutely amazing when it comes to cruching code. When it comes to business and macro-economic topics, however, he hasn't a clue. (Reminds me of "Rainman": "Raymond, how much does a candy bar cost?" "A hunnerd dollars." "How much does a new car cost?" "A hunnerd dollars.")

I also know a high school dropout loading dock foreman who is terrified of computers but can keep track of about 7 levels of shipments in his head--both in and out--and can tell you *exactly* what the impact will be on a dozen different transactions if a single item three steps removed is not delivered in time.

Both of these guys help me understand y2k better. One gives me insight into the technical end, the other helps me see the interconnectedness of systems and how one failure ripples up and down the supply chain. Neither would be labeled a y2k expert--nor would I.

Are there really *any* experts? Is de Jager? Is Yourdon? Is Yardeni?

Is it possible that this thing is so vast and so complex that no one is truly an expert?

P.S. I'll take the collective wisdom of the "wannabe experts" on this NG over de Jager any day.

-- rick blaine (y2kazoo@hotmail.com), February 11, 1999


Simple answer - there is no y2k expert - this is a unique event, nobody knows how it will play out.

"Is it possible that this thing is so vast and so complex that no one is truly an expert?"

There is no better group of individuals with a good grasp of the complexity of y2k than those on this forum IMHO.

Gary North, to my mind gave as good a definition as I think you'll get in his phoney "Interview" with a reporter...

"Q. What are your credentials for being an expert on Y2K?

A. 4,000+ hours of research.

Q. What else?

A. I received a bachelor's degree in collapsing civilizations, an M.A. in the history of urban food riots, and a Ph.D. in early 18th- century famines.

Q. You did? Really?

A. No.

Q. I don't understand.

A. There are no credentials in Y2K. Nothing like this has ever happened before: a predictable disaster that hits the entire industrial world in a one-day spin of the earth.

Q. Do you have any credentials?

A. I received a Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Riverside, in the summer of 1972. I wrote my dissertation on "The Concept of Property in Puritan New England, 1630-1720." It wasn't as interesting as it sounds. I have written about 42 books, depending on what constitutes a book, but not one on Y2K.

Q: When did you first realize that there is a Year 2000 computer problem?

A. Intellectually, in February of 1992, when I read "Robert X. Cringely's" Accidental Empires. He said IBM would go bankrupt in 2000, beginning with the failure of IBM mainframe computers on Jan. 1. But I did not emotionally grasp what this would do to society until the summer of 1996.

Q: What convinced you?

A. I was talking to my friend, Arkansas Bill (who went to the same high school four years behind the more famous one: the drum major). In the early 1970's, Bill was a mainframe programmer. He is now the most successful small business marketing man I know. The topic of Y2K came up. I asked him what he thought. "I know this much: Medicaid will go down on January 1, 2000. I was on the team that did the programming. There is no way that the code can be fixed in time." I spent the day talking to him about the details of Y2K. Without his guidance, I would not have gotten into this strange cottage industry as the chief compiler of Y2K documentation.

Q. How long did it take you to figure out what will happen if programs like Medicaid do go down?

A. That day. It came like a flash. The division of labor will collapse."

Link at



-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), February 11, 1999.

North as "the chief compiler of Y2K documentation" is about as close as he'll ever be to an expert. The articles he collects don't amount to much Y2K documentation anyway. They are mostly other people's articles, which means his information is at best second-hand.

OK, maybe there are no experts, but de Jager is closer to one than anyone who posts here.

-- ... (no@email.spam), February 11, 1999.

"OK, maybe there are no experts, but de Jager is closer to one than anyone who posts here."

Hey Thanks, I needed a good laugh today :)

Have you by any chance seen de Jagers' metamorphosis recently from bear to beanie baby. Why the u-turn? He has been bought off or leaned on or cracked up.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), February 11, 1999.

Also I didn't say GN was an expert - I said he gave THE BEST DEFINITION OF AN EXPERT.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), February 11, 1999.

This is easy, everybody's an expert!

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), February 11, 1999.

Here's one Y2K expert...

Senator Bob Bennett of Utah, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000.





-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), February 11, 1999.


Someone who can take what you already know and make it sound confusing

Experts are people who know more amd more about less and less until they know everything about nothing

Experts are people who make mistakes quietly

An expert knows all the answers if you ask the right questions

The reputation of experts in based on not what they know, but what others do not know

bits and pieces

-- moose (tkh@earthlink.net), February 11, 1999.

The need to search for a Y2k "expert" is symtomatic of our lack of self-reliance and the ability to think for ourselves. I certainly don't expect the president of General Motors to be able to fix my transmission, or to prepare GM's Federal Tax Return. And I've read that even Einstein needed assistance from time to time on some of the more advanced math required to prepare his Theory of Relativity.

What IS important IMHO is to stay focused on the big picture. It is the view from ABOVE that is as clear as a bell. With less than 11 months to go, consider these facts:

1) There is no government agency or company of any significant size that claims to have validated their internal systems to be Y2k compliant.

2)Before the 100 million data exchanges can work reliably, bridges and filters must be developed, tested and validated. This work can only begin in earnest when EACH partner already has VALIDATED THEIR OWN INTERNAL SYSTEMS.

3) On the whole, "the embedded chip problem", considered to be much more difficult to solve than JUST repairing code, has not passed the assessment stage.

4) Considering the mind-boggling number of simultaneous, and multi-layered Y2k repairs going on, end-to-end testing is all but essential to have any chance at all to find and fix undiscovered critical errors. Yet, it is clear to anyone following Y2k developments that end-to-end testing will NOT be done at all, let alone, throughout the 'network' of millions of interdependent organizations.

Roger Altman

-- Roger Altman (RogAltman@AOL.com), February 11, 1999.

Moose: LOL

Roger: You write, "The need to search for a Y2k "expert" is symtomatic of our lack of self-reliance and the ability to think for ourselves."

C'mon, lighten up. This is the most complex, unprecedented sucker to come down the pike in all of our lifetimes. Looking for a little assistance here is not because we can't think for ourselves.

Most of the folks on this NG seem to be brimming with self-reliance and original thoughts.

BTW, the four points you listed in the rest of your post were excellent.

-- rick blaine (y2kazoo@hotmail.com), February 11, 1999.

Hey, this subject keeps coming up and up and up. It's easy (seriously), here are the experts:

Rob, Andy, Cook, Altman, TM, Milne, Flint, a, Davis, E Coli, Nikoli, Runway Cat, Hardliner, Old Git, Greybear, Franklin, Diane, Kevin, Leska, Arlin, Arnie, Uncle Deedah, Chris, Sysman, Gilda and many of the other regulars here (this never was intended as an exhaustive or a priority list).

OK, I include some pollyannas, SO WHAT? In real life, even virtual NG life, experts can disagree.

N.B., the experts include IT professionals and mom's. Crazy people. Religious fanatics and zealots. Such is life. Nevertheless, I look to all of the people on this list (and the others I'm skilling from temporary amnesia) as the experts who are advising me on Y2K.

Ponder this, it's not that any single individual is the expert but that collectively, the regulars converge towards expertise on Y2K, even when flames are rising.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 11, 1999.

Webster - "expert - thoroughly skilled; an expert person: SPECIALIST"

For my money, Ed Yourdon is a "Y2K expert," as are others of his ilk. This definition does NOT imply that someone knows EVERYTHING there is to know about a particular subject. I would venture that many of us are "experts" on this issue, at least subsets of it.

-- pshannon (pshannon@inch.com), February 11, 1999.

A lot of us newbies following these threads for the first time, needing insight and possible help would appreciate it if someone would post a list somewhere of the meanings of all the abbreviations (couldn't remember the english term) being used. Most are self explanatory but others I'm having trouble with. NG, GN, BTW, NWO, DGI, GI, ETC, Seems every day there's a new one added. Pretty soon the conversation will be as follows: SD, GT, ASE, DRT, FO, DE AND SO,ON. Help.

-- Jimbo (anon2@anon.com), February 11, 1999.

Been a furniture refinisher and restorer for ever, cabinet refinishing etc..."One of the true signs of an expert craftsman is his ability to cover his mistakes." Quote from a book long gone.

-- freeman (freeman@cali.com), February 11, 1999.

Thanks, BD, being an newbe here, I'm honored to be on your list! I guess 31 years of programming makes me sorta an expert. However, I work for a publishers services company, hardly anything "serious". If we do go down, the end result is a few less books, web sites and CD-ROMs get published. Far reaching results could be unemployed publishers, and unemployed us. Enough to push the first domino over? I do think your list is correct. From what I see, these people post serious info, and give serious comments. I guess they're concerned enough to get involved, more than the average "reader". I think anybody concerned enough about something becomes an expert after a while. That's why I'm still hanging around here, even with all the doom, BS, etc. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), February 11, 1999.

then...all you y2k experts...stop with the doom and gloom and figure out ways to help...you know most people don't have a clue...it's not their fault...everyone is specialized these days...hard times are coming...america must work together

-- help (others@timesof.crisis), February 11, 1999.

No kidding, anyone know how to get this site pushed up the list on some of the search engines? Could make a few more surfers GIs, if it helps. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), February 11, 1999.

Sysman, I still can't believe, with all the computer brains running around these threads, that we don't have a search engine yet!

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), February 11, 1999.

More experts and their specific expertise .....

Yourdon/Jones: The way IT really works

Hamasaki: The challenge of fixing the big iron

Hall, Frautschi: Embedded chips

North: Systemic nature of Y2K

Milne/Infomagic: Facing up to the unthinkable

Eddy/Porlier (Westergaard): What's really going on behind the happy faces

PNG: The view from Japan

Cowles/Martin: Down and dirty with the utility industry

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 11, 1999.

Leska -

Forgive me, my Cascadian friend, but you're falling into the same mental trap as the folks who are expecting Y2K problems to just "get fixed." Too many people see software as "magic" that just sort of pops into existence at the behest of some socially-challenged wizard with a keyboard.

Why do you conclude that a search engine for the "Greenspun forum system" is at all easy to create? It would probably require a few hundred hours for someone to design, develop, test, and install (and then review all the unexpected problems with version 1.0, answer the complaints from Forum users, fix, test, and install version 1.1). Now, what benefit is there to any of the "computer brains" to spend those hours developing said system? Those hours are precious right now and are much better spent in Y2K planning and prep.

Software takes time to do right. I'd prefer that folks concentrate their labor in acquiring prep materials, including making money in order to have as much contingency funding as they can.

Just my $.02...

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.com), February 12, 1999.

The definition of a Y2K expert is time dependent.

Right now, until December 31, 1999 a Y2K expert is a mythical creature that many claim to have seen but none can produce.

After that Y2K experts will be all around you ;)

-- Noah Simoneaux (noaj@yournet.com), February 14, 1999.


NG = newsgroup (i.e., Usenet newsgroup) -- some call this forum a newsgroup

GN = Gary North

BTW = by the way

NWO = New World Order

GI = a person who "Gets It" (understanding seriousness of Y2k)

DGI = a "Don't Get It" person (in regard to seriousness of Y2k)

-- No Spam Please (anon@ymous.com), February 14, 1999.

ETC = etcetera, or, and so on.

-- humptydumpty (no.6@thevillage.com), February 14, 1999.

"OK, maybe there are no experts, but de Jager is closer to one than anyone who posts here."

De Jager is definitely an expert if anyone can be. But he is one who, for whatever reason, has lost his integrity, his mind, and he has turned around to feed us sleepy-bedtime stories. Perhaps he's sold his soul to the government and helps them in their campaign to "calm the public", perhaps he is acting alone, afraid himself of the public panic and crashing economy. Whatever his motive, he is now not telling the truth anymore.

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), February 14, 1999.

It's also useful to know the bio/background of people when trying to decide on who's an expert.

Take for example, Andy who posts on this forum a lot. He is by no means unique in his expertise. Many many regulars have just as much and some have even more impressive bios.

Here's Andy's taken from his essay on Cori Hamasaki's Weather Report #110:

"Let me preface this rather gloomy scenario with a little about my biography. I have over 21 years mainframe IT experience specialising in realtime computer operations, and assembler coverage programming, in both airline, railway and banking TPF/VM/MVS systems. I have worked extensively with mainframe heavy iron in the UK, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the USA. Companies include British Airways, SNCF, Amadeus, Saudia, Continental, American Airlines and VISA. I believe my extensive experience, both internationally and domestically, gives me the necessary background to feel comfortable with the accuracy of these figures, very disheartening and alarming that these conclusions admittedly are." (More bios on frequent posters here can be read on "What about you" threads in the archives.)

Add to Andy's bio that he has been doing intensive research on Y2K for quite sometime (longer than the 8 months that I've known him, but perhaps he would tell us how long), he is at least as up to date on Y2K as De Jager is.

Now compare

Notice that De Jager's bio tells us nothing about his background experience other than he's been sounding the Y2K alarm for several years and that he's written a book and is/was a government consultant on Y2K. Nowhere on his bio does it tell us what actual education or work experience he has. This is the bio posted on his own webpage. What makes De Jager more an expert than Andy? His bio does not impress me as much as Andy does, as experience "in the trenches" goes. Granted De Jager has probably more contacts with big business and government, but Andy is rather adept at digging out, and has posted, facts about big business and government's status on Y2K.

I for one count myself as very lucky to have found this forum, populated with so many experts. Yes, experts.

-- Chris (
catsy@pond.com), February 14, 1999.

Sorry about that. I messed up a tag somewhere. Should say "Now compare De Jager's bio". Click on the whole paragraph to bring you there.

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), February 14, 1999.

So, BigDog, you are saying that even within the context of Y2K expertise, there is specialization.

It is not that there are no solid qualifications for a Y2K expert, but that there is a dearth of enough solid statistical data, caused and limited by orthogonal aspects of our society, which effectively hobbles any half-decent integrator, no matter what his credentials are.

-- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), February 14, 1999.

Chris, thanks - de Jager started out at the "bottom", like myself, as a computer operator. de Jager is now rich and I'm still contracting so he must be doing something right!!!:)It bothers me that he has sold out during this crucial phase in the y2k awareness slope... he boasts that he is advising the UK and American governments... he does a complete u-turn... what does this tell you???

It tells me that we are in serious trouble - he has been told to say what he's been saying recently IMO - a pack of lies.

As I stated before, this forum has an impressive array of expertise in all areas of life and technology - pool this resource with your own research on the other y2k sites and in the media and you won't go far wrong.

Later, Andy

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), February 15, 1999.

If you read Robert Ringer's "Looking out for Number One", you will find a chapter on experts. Says more on the subject of lawyers, experts, and schmucksperts (his word) and how to identify them than anyone else ever has. And it's funny at the same time. A very good book.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), February 17, 1999.

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