Broken Windows proved in the Netherlands


04/06/2009

Seems like The Economist is reporting on what we've suspected for years:The “broken windows” theory of crime is correct. New experiments in the Netherlands confirm the theory that one instance of disorder, such as graffiti or littering, can indeed encourage another, more serious form, such as stealing. In fact, this new research showed that people were twice as likely to steal when placed in a condition of disorder.

I keep harping on the idea that Context matters, and here is another clear example. An environment that is "broken" in some significant way can lead to further damage, which breaks the environment even more, and you can quickly get a snowball effect to complete disaster. Not that that ever happens on a software project...

Our advice back at the turn of the century (ahem) in The Pragmatic Programmer was to avoid technical debt like the plague. Don't get into it if you can, and if you have it, make concrete plans to begin reducing it. Just like real debt :-).

Even if it seems minor at the time, remember than one thing will lead to another. And the next one will be worse.

/\ndy

(Thanks to Georg Tuparev for passing this on)



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