At the end of the Extended Archival Description panel, someone in the audience asked if ColdFusion and ASP were used for the Archives of American Art project. The response was interesting. The answer was yes to ColdFusion and no to ASP. That wasn’t the interesting part. The part I was intrigued by was the reasons WHY they had used ColdFusion.
The developer on the project was there and stood to add his 2 cents. He said these were the reasons for the choice of ColdFusion:
The Smithsonian is not enthusiastic about open source software
The Smithsonian is not unfriendly towards ColdFusion
He knew ColdFusion very well
This immediately made me think of a recent post at Creating Passionate Users: When the “best tool for the job”… isn’t. In her post, Kathy Sierra talks about other factors to weigh when choosing a software tool to solve a problem OTHER than what is the best tool for the job based on the features of all the options. She proposes (in what she admits is a sweeping generalization) that enthusiasm for a tool be weighed more heavily than it’s pure appropriateness for the task when selecting which tool to use.
I am not saying that ColdFusion was necessarily the AAA developer’s first choice – but that it is interesting to remember that there are LOTS of different elements that go into choosing software to address the challenges at the intersection of archives and the internet. One of those things is simply the skills of the people you have to work on a project – and their enthusiasm for the tools at hand.