[theforum] A sound of silence

Martin Burns martin at easyweb.co.uk
Sat Nov 22 05:28:22 CST 2008

On 21 Nov 2008, at 00:16, Matt Warden wrote:

> What is our common purpose anymore? Why, other than history and
> stubbornness, are we even bothering with evolt anymore?

A good set of questions!

> People join a community because they are passionate about the common  
> purpose.

Yes, but this is really the end, not the start.

> People join a community because the community offers value to them  
> personally.

True, but this is another way of saying "if they see a point to doing  
so" as offering value can mean a whole range of things beyond (what I  
suspect you meant) "helps me do my job".

> People join a community because they wish to feel a part of something
> positive and bigger than themselves.

The biggest reason is this:
People join a community because they want to be with (in the wider  
sense) people like themselves. To define themselves as being part of  
*this* group, not *that* group (for a given moment/context anyway)

Most of the other reasons are ways of defining what 'like themselves'  
looks like, or ways of expressing 'being with' means. Which includes  
of course mutual self-help on practical matters, but also includes  
having people you can bitch to about *that* group (eg your daily work  
environment) who will empathise with you.

> We
> have 10 softball posts per day on thelist with an answer and question
> quality that could be found anywhere on the web.

But that's *always* been thelist (and articles have mirrored that).  
Always always always. It's *always* been pitched at the 'new into the  
profession'/coding at a low level audience. So when people grow past  
that, they leave, except a few who stay out of history and stubbornness.

So our members who were at that simple level 10 years ago: very, very  
few of them will be getting practical help from thelist/articles these  
days. Where are the people who got good at interfacing web front ends  
to other things and are now doing EAI? Where are the project and  
programme managers? Where are the people who did a bit of sysadmin and  
are now running chunky iron in datacentres (hi William!)? Where are  
the seriously hard-core programmers who really get 3-level- 
architectures and are writing frameworks (hi Seb!)? Where are the  
Creative Directors? Where are the System Architects?

They have moved on.

Now we can look at that in one of two ways:
1) Consider it A Good Thing and embrace that we're for people  
relatively new into the profession (and a bit of hanging round 'people  
like us' for us old-timers)
2) Consider it A Bad Thing and do something about it, enabling us to  
offer practical help for people all the way through their careers.

Your views solicited without prejudice on which of these two is the  
better option.

The other area where I think we have a particular strength is in being  
global. And it's interesting to see that many day to day things are  
the same the world over; business bosses/clients don't understand,  
late nights working happen far too often and are accompanied by pizza  
etc. And yet, and yet... we have such a range of cultures and  
languages that we could reflect better.

One of the positive things about there being a lot more UK people here  
than originally is the cultural clash has helped us collectively  
understand that there are many viewpoints and approaches: as UK people  
have said "Hang on, we don't see it that way" it's enabled a wider  
understanding of "other countries/cultures may see it differently  
again". Even if it's just the spelling of colour.

And I'd dearly love to encourage that and make it more widespread. Why  
do we limit ourselves to English-only? Particularly in articles. Yes,  
I'm really happy I can read the current Colours article without  
learning Dutch. And I know that every Dutch person I've met (and  
that's a lot) has better English (and often German too) than a good  
number of people who *live* in the UK. But wouldn't it have been great  
to be able to publish it in both languages?

And wouldn't it be great to have a better sense of the global spread  
of evolters? Hence the map, as it's really easy to forget...


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