Telephone and Smartphone

Dwayne Phillips
1 min readDec 2, 2021

by Dwayne Phillips

When the terrain and the map differ, believe the terrain. It is there in front of us. We ignore this at our peril.

We have a telephone (at least I still do in my home) and a smartphone. We call both of them “phones.” Their names are the same. How we represent them in English is the same. This representation and these words are their descriptions and are similar to a map of a location. The map says they are the same.

We know a smartphone is not just another telephone. Everyone who has ever used both know they are vastly different with vastly different designs and purposes. That is the reality; that is akin to the terrain we see and while hiking or driving. We know a hill from a flat piece of land because we experience it.

In the case of the phone, we trust the terrain and not the map.

In the case of building systems, we often trust the map and not the terrain. We believe what we read and not what we experience. The schedule says we are almost done. We look at the system and see that it will be months before it is done. The spec says the system is fast. Our tests show otherwise. Marketing says the system will sell big. Our test users roll their eyes. Which do we believe?

Believe the terrain, not the map. Ignore this a our peril.



Dwayne Phillips

Engineer, computing, consulting, writing, teaching, and a few other things in an effort to make us all better and smarter.