In praise of engineers and scientists: their failures are learning experiences

Apollo 13 engineers celebrate safe splashdown.
NASA photo, April 1970. NBC News via AP
Versión en español aquí.

Journalists who are starting their own digital media should learn to think more like engineers and scientists. For them, solving a problem involves repeated trial and error. They view each step not as a failure but as a learning experience.

Engineers and scientists were the heroes of "Apollo 13," both in the movie and in real life.  They searched frantically against the clock to find ways to keep the damaged spacecraft's crew alive and return them safely to Earth.

They had to improvise solutions with the imperfect tools on board the spacecraft and experiment with processes they had never tried before. They had a goal but they weren't sure how to get there. So they tried and failed and kept trying. 

There's never enough time or money

Like them, journalists working in a startup will not have the ideal tools at hand nor all the money and time in the world to perfect their web project. Many of the answers they need can be found only by getting their product into the hands of the intended audience. Test it on the audience. On the web, a new product is always in Beta.

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