As human beings and developers, we like to have clear answers and solutions, even when a solution that makes everyone happy might not even exist. Grey areas are not welcome, but when dealing with software and disputed territories they are very likely.
A common question I have at conferences talking about software challenges and partially recognised countries is: what should be the correct name? What is right? What is wrong?
This weekend I was reading Step by Step, a book by Simon Reeve, my favourite British author and presenter, who in 2005 recorded Holidays in the Danger Zone: Places That Don’t Exist. Talking about his experience in Nagorno-Karabakh, he writes:
Anyway, criticising wasn’t my job, then or now. I wasn’t there to cast simple aspersions. I was there to try and offer a balanced view of the situation, show an unrecognised state to the viewers, and encourage them to learn more about the chaos and tragedy that exists in our world.
And indeed not criticising and offering a balanced view of the situation should be our goal as software and data experts:
Two people can go to war and endure decades of conflict and division, but both can be right. Both can still deserve our sympathy. We can go through the events that created the situation and identify who on each side made mistakes and who committed crimes, but when the end result is long-term suffering, everyone deserves understanding.
Simon Reeve reminds us as well that challenges might affect as well large economies and Internet audiences:
Lack of international recognition is not limited to poor countries. The island of Taiwan has one of the most powerful economies in the world and it has been the tenth largest trade partner of the US, but i has no seat at the United Nations and no major state recognises it as a proper country.
You can still find on YouTube the five-part travel documentary Places That Don’t Exist and I suggest watching it.
Background photo of Taipei by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash