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second system syndrome

The second system syndrome was first named and described by Fred P. Brooks in his famous book The Mythical Man-Month. It was framed specifically with respect to software design, and refers to the tendency to attempt to add a lot of features to a second system that were seemingly lacking in the original deployment and were only noticed as missing after that.

Typically, as Brooks saw it, the second system failed for being overburdened with features and having an overly complex software architecture and perhaps also a very inflexible strong ontology. Third systems tended to do better because there was more information about the constraints.

Many people believe that "Web 2.0" will fall victim to the second system syndrome, and that a simpler approach based on REST APIs is much more likely to succeed long-term.