Technology Weblogging

The John Robb non-debate

I received an email about my weblog postings related to the non-debate about open source with John Robb. The person thought I was “silly” for calling John Robb a Suit, among other things. I thought I would repeat his email here, sans his name. Note to folks — you want to slam my weblog postings, do so within the comments, not via an email:

Far be it from me to defend John Robb, he can defend himself if he feels he needs to. I find him rather hard to take more often than not. But I followed a link to your site from his and I read the following:

I wonder what ever happened to debate? Or disagreement? Or even getting pissed at another person and coming out swinging — in writing that is…

…(rest cut as you can read this in yesterday’s weblog)

And further down the page:

However, I also realize that John is basically a Suit. He reads about
trends, and he reads about approaches, and he writes about them, and he makes recommendations, and he manages — but John doesn’t get his hands dirty. He doesn’t get into the technology. He might be called a “technology expert”, but he’s not a techie. So he’s not going to look at Open Source, or even P2P from the ground level. He’ll look at it from a bottom line, or from a spreadsheet, or from the viewpoint of counted lines in publications, or from conversations with techies, but he’ll never have a techie perspective. So, I’m tempted to cut him some
slack — he doesn’t really understand the technology. The industry, yes.
The business, yes. But not the technology.

And I wonder if you see the problem here?

Frankly, I find the earlier paragraph about John being a “suit” sort of
silly. Obviously, open source is some kind of sacred ox of yours that is
being gored by Robb. So after putting up something of a legitimate
refutation of his argument, you then close with this sort of adolescent
put-down. Why would John Robb choose to engage you in debate? You’ve already disqualified him from being able to intelligently debate you on the topic because he’s not a “techie.”

I find this even more amusing given your most recent entry regarding
your introduction to computers. One of the big advantages of
micro-computers was that it brought the power of computing to regular people and not just the “priesthood” of MIS.

It would appear now that there is a new priesthood of open-source
“techies” who are the only people qualified to comment on the technology because they are the only ones who get their hands dirty (as if!) with it and thus understand it.

Seems kind of arrogant (you deigned to “cut him some slack”) and closed minded (“he’ll never have a techie perspective”) to me. Which might go some ways toward explaining why you may not have got the online fight you were looking for. Why bother?

Happy New Year!

You know I could care less that John Robb doesn’t “know” anything about computer technology other than the running a tech business. If he does a good job of it, great — we need good management within software companies, and believe it or not, I respect good business management. And it’s true — “Suit” is about the worst put down you can apply to a person within the technology business (well, most businesses really). Bluntly, I wouldn’t have used this term except for Robb’s incredibly arrogant one line putdown of open source. “You get what you pay for”.


Anyone that can dismiss all of the incredible software that exists thanks to people and organizations who have freely provided this software via “open source”, with a trite, banal one line statement such as “You get what you pay for” deserves a resounding put down in return. When I read Robb’s background and applied this to his “reputation” as being a technology expert, my first reaction was “What a typical Suit”. Hence the weblog posting.

As for my weblog entry about my introduction to computers: I wrote this as a way of explaining why I love technology so much, why I spend so much time with it, and especially why I argue about it so passionately. I was actually trying to share a bit of myself with my weblog readers. And all the person who sent me the email can respond to is that Thank God the micro-computers have come along and brought the power of computing to the little people rather than priesthood of MIS.

Is my writing so obscure and poor that the whole point of what I was writing was that lost?

Why do I bother writing to this weblog? Especially about technology? Technology’s never been anything but a good ole boy network. Yeah, you can comment on standards — as long as you follow WSP’s party line. Yeah, you can go after an obvious putdown of technology, but only if you follow some form of “gentlemen’s rules”. Something along the lines of:

Well hey buddy boy, John. I’m sure you didn’t mean that nasty putdown of open source, now did you buddy boy? I’m sure you meant something more on the lines of “Open source isn’t living up to it’s hype”. Hey, don’t take offense *wink* *giggle*. And I bet you want to take back that sentence: I am beginning to think there isn’t any real intellectual rigor behind the open source movement. *wink* *wink* *giggle* LOL!

Gag me.

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