There is nothing wrong with writing a book

Chad posted something in reaction/response to some session at the Alt.NET Seattle 2009 conference about why Alt.NET is so mean or something (I have the various sessions on my list to watch, but given the size of my current backlog, I figure I’ll actually get to it in 2010.  Maybe.).  Since I haven’t watched the session in question I don’t have much to say about it.  I will say that I don’t think there is that much meanness going on (with perhaps a few notable exceptions).  Perhaps it is a form of weird reverse nostalgia, but I remember the conversations on the non-moderated Babylon 5 Usenet list as having a lot more vitriol.

However, Chad did bring up something within the context of a point about professionalism (mild digression: is there a contractual obligation that everyone at LosTechies has to talk about quality and/or professionalism every few months?  Not that there is anything wrong with that, just wondering) that requires a comment or two:

“Worse yet, what if there are others in the community who have some profit-interest (book deals, speaking engagements, lucrative contracts) in seeing the “wrong” technology being released so they can help customers who are unable to use the technology effectively (… because it’s “wrong”!)?   What if these people who have conflicts of interest malign us and call us “mean” and tell us to stop being “a**holes” and, basically, to shut up?”

This isn’t anything new, not from Chad or from others, of course.  But, I think it is ironic because I think it is, well, unprofessional.

As I’ve written about previously, seemingly the entire Agile/XP gang writes books, gets speaking engagements, etc.  But I don’t think Chad would hold that against them, because he is on their side.  Uncle Bob’s presentation last month was a good one, but he did mention within it that he sees a profit motive for ObjectMentor in what he does (he didn’t mention the phrase ‘profit motive’ of course, but the point he was making was clear).  Because of all the corporate initiatives that have spread Scrum without the XP, those like himself who want to re-introduce XP into Scrum can benefit financially.  Ron Jeffries’ comment about having a nice blue convertible is also telling.

And I think this is fine.  It’s legitimate.  If you think that there are certain things within software development that are important and legitimate, and can also benefit you financially, you’d have to be an idiot not to pursue this.

What Chad seems to think (though not exactly) is that people who promote ‘wrong’ technology are doing it as if they are *only* doing it from a profit motive, and that they know they are promoting ‘wrong’ technology.  He doesn’t name the particular technologies that he has deemed to be unworthy.  My guess is that the Entity Framework and/or Sharepoint might be on the list, but the guess is irrelevant.  He seems to be incapable or perhaps just unwilling to accept that there might be people who view these ‘wrong’ technologies as not wrong at all.

Of course, I’m making a mistake by focusing on Chad here, since the point is more general, but you have to work with what you have to work with.  The more general point is pretty simple:  if you are going to question the motives of those you disagree with, it really shouldn’t be surprising if people think you are being mean.  Whenever I have a disagreement with Chad, it is usually not that long before he states that I’m just a troll, as if that is the motivation for the disagreement.  I think that anyone who knows me or knows anything about me knows that my ego is healthy enough (one might say ‘over-healthy’) where I don’t really care that much if the best rebuttal to a point I have to make is that I’m a troll.  I mean, if I want to engage in troll-dom, I’ll go to a Linux forum and claim that Linux isn’t sophisticated enough to be the desktop for my Mom or something. 

But, the fact remains that there are people who really do believe in the ‘wrong’ technologies that they promote, and falling to the level of simply refusing to accept this is a sign of complete unprofessionalism.

Are there people who are dishonest because of profit motives?  Um, duh.  But this ‘duh’ is as true of the Agile crowd as of anybody who is promoting some product from Microsoft.

So, if you believe in a technology, it is okay to write a book about it.  Unprofessional people will question your motives, but their questioning is unimportant.

posted on Monday, March 02, 2009 8:08 PM Print
# re: There is nothing wrong with writing a book
Troy Tuttle
3/3/2009 10:50 AM
I second the motion.

I've felt this for a while now. It's the same reason the blue-convertible-big-'A'-Agilistas get so upset at the folks who talk about context-driven approaches to agile. If context becomes king, then their brand of agile they peddle in books and speaking engagements becomes a lot less valuable. They want to hold on to that lucrative knowledge business as long as possible.
# re: There is nothing wrong with writing a book
Michael D. Hall
3/11/2009 11:42 PM
I thought it was more the "us vs. them" vibe that seems to be picking up in the community. Either you use NH, RhinoMocks, DDD, BDD, TDD, Fitnesse, StructureMap and whatever else is currently cool or you're stupid. If you use anything that comes out of Microsoft, you're stupid. If you don't agree with the "common wisdom" then you're stupid. The whole Oxite boondoggle and the EF Vote of No Confidence are symptoms of the problem as well as the "if you don't agree with me the FU" posts I've seen lately.

But what you're describing reminds me of the first Alt.NET meeting I attended where someone said something about "selling out". My response, "it's not f$cking punk rock, it's software, selling out is the whole point". Alt.NET is primarily focused on using tools on the Microsoft .NET platform for business-related purposes, not doing humanitarian work. We're in it for the love of our profession AND to make money.

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