Sunday, August 26, 2007

Beware Of The Technology Advocate

Windows or Linux? RedHat or Ubuntu? GPL or BSD license? vi or emacs? JSP or ASP? I can't tell you how many times I have had a discussion with a friend or co-worker that starts like this:

"You use technology x?! ... Did you know about technology y, its way better..."

or the ever popular negative approach:

"System x sucks, system y can do..."

I hate such discussions, mainly because (generally) both sides have a valid point. Technology does something to us when we learn how to use it to solve our problems. Suddenly the hot new whatever becomes useful, and despite its quirks makes us feel so good that we have to advocate its usefulness to the rest of the world. This would be fine if there were no technological overlap. Fortunately for all of us technologies do overlap.

Enter conflict. It is inevitable whenever two technology advocates get together who have similar strategic objectives but different technological toolboxes. The conversation will usually start out like a game of chess but typically ends in a pissing contest. Nobody benefits from this and everyone leaves irritated. So if you like your Windows Vista work environment and that obnoxious Linux guru comes by your cube to harass you, try to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Technology shouldn't be a religion, so don't treat it as such. Unlike with your religion, technologies have gray areas that overlap. Don't look at competing technologies as exclusively good or exclusively bad.
  2. Java is paying for my home. There are a lot of people who swear Java sucks (just ask Google). But I write Java every day, I get paid good money, and I like what I do. My customers are happy and my company is making money. Despite the laundry list of reasons why Java sucks from very competent people, it is still self-evident that Java doesn't suck.
  3. Is a drill better than a chainsaw? A prudent person could not answer this question without knowing specific situational information. However, the technology advocate will swear that he or she has used a chainsaw before and it worked every single time: faster and with better results than your drill. Don't let the advocate talk you in to installing a wall anchor with a chainsaw.

1 comment:

sk0t said...

It amazes me to this day how people will be a strong proponent of something, without trying out the rest of the world.

I know I like things simple, but if there is something out there that I haven't used, how can it be the best?