There’s an old (“old” by our industry’s standards) urban legend about irony that actually found its way into the Darwin awards. I remember it getting sent around back when it first surfaced some time in 1994. In fact, as I recall, Dave Luebbert was the one who forwarded it to me.
Over the past couple of weeks, a variation on the theme has played itself out on Phillip Su’s blog. A couple of weeks ago, Phillip posted a very insightful discussion of the reasons why Windows Vista slipped. Of course, if you follow that link now, you’ll only get to see a very redacted version of the original. That’s because the original caused such a firestorm of flamage, that reasoned discussion of some very salient issues germane to the industry became well nigh impossible. Phillip’s post wasn’t just slashdotted. It, and the comments that ensued, became slashdot in microcosm.
The irony? After taking a brief look at the commonly-accused culprits for slipping, namely code complexity and process overhead, Phillip posited that there was a deeper, more subtle, underlying cause afoot. Phillip wrote:
Deep in the bowels of [the] Windows [group], there remains the whiff of a bygone culture of belittlement and aggression. [The] Windows [group] can be a scary place to tell the truth. [Emphasis added.]
The overwhelming response to Phillip’s post was aggressive belittlement from largely ill-informed individuals pressing various agendas (both anti and pro Microsoft). Of the more than 100 comments added to that post, maybe a handful were actually thoughtful responses to the central issue that Phillip raised. Seems like there’s more than just a whiff of this “culture of belittlement and aggression” in our industry, not just at Microsoft. And it sure isn’t “bygone”!
By the way, Phillip has a follow-up question. I’m still thinking about what I want to say.
Update: Phillip’s original is back up.
Currently playing in iTunes: Lay Your Burden Down by Gov’t Mule