This guy, Seth Godin, has a great presentation on what it means to be broken, regarding products, procedures and the like. He gives some comical examples, and makes some great points doing so.
One example that might catch your attention: read this short story about a $300 lock that you can break into in just a few seconds. Not like you’re gonna go to a hotel wielding a neodymium magnet (get stuck on the door rather than getting through it), but still. Scary to think about; good thing they’re getting replaced.
Thinking one step ahead when you’re designing, and being careful not to miss the little details can be kind of a big deal. Like if you’re making an 18km tunnel between two countries. No, nothing’s gone wrong yet. And hopefully it will stay that way. But still.
Google’s new “Google Conversation,” available for android smartphones, translates in nearly real-time between two languages. The first issue that comes to mind is that it will translate something wrong and get people in trouble. But Google is smart; they’re only releasing it between English and Spanish for now. Two languages which need to work together a lot (especially in America) and are also pretty similar, and thus probably won’t get things horrendously wrong.
Things that can go horrendously wrong are probably the reason weeding out problems is basically the first three or four steps of the software development process, depending on how loosely you define it. And why there are so many ways to test software. And why there’s an entire operating system dedicated to finding security flaws in one’s programs.
Long story short, most people nowadays call things like this a fail. Because it is. So don’t fail.