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As engineers, many of whom have devoted their entire careers to the site, gathered for a celebration

This is one of (many) problems inherent in megaprojects;  their scale and timeline calls for such career investment that you end up with whole subcultures (sometimes multigenerational) of techies and engineers who cannot afford -- emotionally or careerwise -- to admit for one minute that the whole thing might be a bad idea.  It is their whole life.  They form a tremendous bloc of inertia (or momentum in this case) and orthodoxy and denial, having invested so much of their lives and selves in the Project.  A change of course or conceptual model becomes simply unthinkable and critics of the Project become The Enemy, heretics, etc.  

This is the exact opposite of "let a thousand flowers bloom," or diverse innovative development where people can switch models, jobs, focus, emphasis, strategy fairly easily as ideas pan out or fail in the real world.  The Vogon Constructor Fleet mentality takes hold and the Project becomes a kind of deity or cult.  The concept of Investment Trap made concrete, as you might say.  I think Three Gorges will be remembered, if anyone's bothering to write history 50 years from now, as a colossal design disaster.  One that will make the Tupelov, the Columbia, the Edsel, and other famous oopses and turkeys look like very small potatoes.  Anyone want to place a small bet?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun May 21st, 2006 at 04:36:30 AM EST
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