This Is Harder Than It Looks

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer here in Northeast Ohio.  June is the unofficial start of art festival season.  Legacy Village in Lyndhurst will be hosting the ex-Beachwood Art Fair tomorrow.  In the coming months we will have the opportunity to see arts and crafts at Cain Park, Boston Mills, and in almost every suburb.  Some of the works on display will be absolutely incredible.  But no matter how incredible the photograph, painting, or even sculpture will be, you are bound to hear someone look at the efforts of a skilled artist and scoff, “What’s the big deal?  I could do that”.  And all you can do is shake your head and hope that the creator of the work doesn’t hear the remark. 

I’m sure we have all done something like that.  We have the silly and totally unfounded notion that we could paint the picture, catch the football, or run the country.  Karaoke is proof that nothing is as easy as it appears.  Sometimes painful proof. 

AOL, the huge internet / communications company, has an online daily community newspaper called The Patch.  There are separate publications for Mayfield Hts, Beachwood, Solon, Lakewood, etc…  Each has its own editor and at least one staff person.  The Patch does a terrific job with breaking news. The design is simple and clean. The publications also include a lot of local bloggers.  Health Insurance Issues With Dave has appeared on the Patch for almost two years.    

AOL decided to update the Patch this week.  The new format would improve the editing functions for bloggers and make the publication easier to read.  That was the plan.  The results were quite different, almost New Coke different.  At one point the entire site was down.  Two days into the change and the site is still not running smoothly.  Hit a button and you may encounter a frozen screen or you might be ejected from the site.  I suspect that this will take a few more days to resolve and by this time next week all functions will be completely restored. 

I bring this up for a reason.  This is AOL, a tech giant, scrambling to update an existing site, an online newspaper.  You know that they completely tested this before it went live.  And you know that there are far more complicated sites.  Yet this roll-out was hardly successful.  This stuff is harder than it looks. 

The Insurance Exchanges are supposed to be live on October 1st.  This excessively complicated, Rube Goldberg creation is destined for failure.  How you view that failure will say a lot about how you view all of the rest of issues surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  If you curse the system from the moment of the first crash, you may well be witnessing the results you were hoping for.  But if you understand that something this complicated will probably have difficulty getting off the ground initially, but may still fly in time, then you will allow the Exchanges the opportunity to solve their problems. 

It is just another website, another picture, another song – something else that looks so easy that we could have done this ourselves.