FlashCanon Flash Platform stuff from Jason Fincanon

18Aug/096

Sharing is great, but it’s just not enough


Unlike my last post, it seems that I should start this one with a few disclaimers, so here they are real quick:

  • I’m only trying to share my views
  • I’m not trying to battle with Ted Patrick
  • I do not think that ALL evangelists are elitists (I have an enormous amount of respect for most evangelists)
  • I do not think that ALL industry leaders are elitists (I have an enormous amount of respect for most industry leaders)

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the post…

If you keep up with Ted Patrick’s blog, you’ll notice that it’s obvious (based on the title of my post) that I’m writing in response to a post Ted wrote on Saturday and tweeted about on Monday. Why am I responding to Ted’s post? Well, for three reasons:

Reason #1: It may have been related to my post
Within his post, Ted states that:

It isn’t some elitist club, but rather those that share gain influence and respect with the community.

I was most likely reading too much into it, but I couldn’t help but think that was in reference to my post on Flash Platform community elitism. By the way, I think I may have been misunderstood because my point was never that there was an elitist club. Instead I was saying that there are SOME in the upper echelons who act like elitists.

Reason #2: I believe there are more pieces to the community puzzle than just sharing code
So after reading Ted’s post, I had a few thoughts. I thought that, yes, sharing IS good and people should do it. Then I thought of how sharing isn’t the only key to working your way to the top. Then I shared my thoughts with Ted via a comment to his post.

Reason #3: I tried to share thoughts in a comment on Ted’s post, but it was never approved
This is the one where I very honestly got confused (confused, not mad) by Ted’s actions in relation to his words. I completely understand it’s his blog and he can approve whatever comments he sees fit… I respect that. However, there’s a bit of irony there when you have a man saying that we all have a voice and that all of our voices can and will be heard while turning around and only approving comments that completely agree with him (IN THIS CASE).

So after I wrote my thoughts and submitted them to Ted’s blog, I waited… and waited… and waited. Finally, when I started seeing other comments showing up, I realized that mine wasn’t going to. While I was talking to a couple of coworkers about this strange turn of events, one of them decided to run a little test. He was going to post a “100% agreeing, ass-kissing” comment to see how long it took to get approved… it didn’t take long at all:

tpComment

In case you can’t read it it says:

I agree 100%. I really love this flow of conversation. It is great to get such insightful help on something like this. Self-marketing can be hit or miss. It is nice to see someone in the “elitist club” giving us n00bs tips on getting a little community hug. Keep up the good work!

I didn’t copy my comment to Ted’s post because I honestly didn’t think there would be any issue with it. So I’ll do my best to remember some of it:

I agree that sharing is good and that everyone should do it. However, I think there are other things to figure in. Things like passion, extra time after hours learning and coding, time away from your family. The face time at conferences, the “who you know” factor, etc.
What if you don’t have the extra time outside of the office? What if you can’t get in the circle of friends at the top? What if you can’t afford to go to conferences and get face time? I think when you figure all of those and more in to the equation, the likelihood of a developer climbing the community ranks is a little diminished. Sharing code alone will not make you the next Keith Peters, Grant Skinner, Joshua Davis. It takes much more than that.

Again, I didn’t copy it so that’s not exact but you get the point.

So help me out here if you can. I’m confused. Why did my comment get ignored? Was it because I didn’t completely agree? Was it because I was presenting some different pieces to figure in? Some different points of view? Was it because Ted was mad at me because of a misunderstanding about my previous post? Maybe he just didn’t want to deal with the debate?

PLEASE read this part
I am not trying to battle with Ted and I’m not trying to battle with any other evangelists or industry leaders. I have the utmost respect for those that have worked their way to the top and become industry leaders. I also have a huge amount of respect for everything that evangelists do for the community. However, I also completely stand by my previous post and its intended message. Those at the top of the community are NOT in some big “elitist club”, but there ARE a few up there with elitist attitudes. There are elitists in every walk of life and this industry is no exception.

And this part
Call it paranoia if you like, but it’s a shame that I feel like several people in the community may turn completely against me for sharing my views on this whole topic. That I may very quickly become the bad guy because I “called out” an evangelist and disagreed with him. And that I may be looked down on for having the gall to say that there are people out there with holier-than-thou attitudes. How dare me!

Flame on! (again)
And now, without further ado, let the flames begin!

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Comments (6) Trackbacks (0)
  1. OK So first I’m going to reply in regards to Ted’s post, since as light as your response is I *know* mine will be dropped.

    I’ve been part of MANY other active language regimes (PHP, C#[.net and mono]/VB6/.net, AS2/AS3, etc), pumping out code left and right as “open source.” While hundreds to thousands of people have emailed and posted on forums thanking me, I have not been very well known in just about ANY language clique.

    You couldn’t be any more correct Jason, it is so much more than JUST sharing code. And of all the different languages I’ve developed in, I’d have to say that Flash-based languages indeed DO have an elitist attitude, and practically require the “who you know” factor as you elegantly put it. You have a lot of Flash designers and Flex developers creating things that are extremely impressive, and are well known, but don’t release a single bit of code. And yet you hear about them in awards, or mentioned in blogs, and somehow they make a name for themselves. The average joe on the forums doling out open source is getting his kudos, but it dies right there… I’m sure you all still remember “2 Advanced”… one of the most impressive Flash platforms/web sites known, and yet his stuff is ALL closed source (unless I’m missing something). It takes being revolutionary, or pumping out so much goodness that people overlook if you do things wrong or bad. Hell (don’t tell anyone), but I remember disassembling quite a bit of popular Flash pieces only to see how most of the work was done ON the timeline, and using FRAME animations rather than TWEENS… I’m sure there’s arguments to be had about that last part, but the point is it was a maintenance HELL because of the approach they took to build their project.. Far from scalable, and certainly not something that should be open source.

    I fear that Ted’s outlook on OSS is purely Utopian – it’s far from realistic – and as being someone that has been developing for longer than I care (nah jk, i still care), I don’t agree with his thoughts at all (not jk)…

    He says:
    “It isn’t some elitist club, but rather those that share gain influence and respect with the community. When you share code you get lots in return. The quality of the software you write gets better, you learn new things from others, you begin to meet others within the community, new opportunities find you based on your contribution, and most importantly, you gain respect for your contribution. Even if your code isn’t the best, mine isn’t, sharing will help you improve and it will help someone learn something new.”

    Your typical community when you output basic open source is that of a couple hundred people… Sure there may be thousands if not hundreds of thousands of members, but only 150-300 ppl saw your post, and while it’s cool, it’s not a complete product and thus the question your code solves will be asked again on the same or other forums. You’re still unknown, and your code was quickly forgotten.

    Sharing code has never once improved YOUR code ever… not once… never will… How many times do you see OSS projects and just start using it? I hope you answered “NEVER!!!”… I’ll also accept “NEVAR!!!!1111oneoneone”… The reason I expect that, is that a DECENT developer will read at least SOME source… If you’re the type that just starts using libraries without reading source, I recommend you close the browser and not partake in this conversation. Harsh as I may be right now, I’m seriously tired of all these crappy open source projects being distributed like it’s god’s gift to developers, and blind dumb “typists” keep using them because it’s the most widely available, or it’s free, or it’s just been around for so long there’s not much to refute it. Some of the most popular OSS projects are STILL crap, even years after their first release. Drastic changes will cause your current user-base to fall off because it won’t work as they’re used to, or will break their backwards-capable support. Or you end up with a dev trying to keep up with more than one version of the same software.

    I’m willing to argue the point that MOST open source software is founded on the idea of “hey, I need this and I need it now… But I bet other people would like it as well, so I’ll just throw it out there”… based on that mindset, the original developer rarely if at all updates it, and if he does he doesn’t often go through the motion to better it by refactoring, etc.. because the job has passed, and he’s no longer getting paid for the work required to make it a completely new product based on what he’s learned… There’s also the argument that he HASN’T learned….

    One can and will argue the point of projects that do go mainstream. Keeping in the Flash realm, take a look at PureMVC – an AS3 implementation of the illustrious MVC pattern. Very very useful, and I myself use it. I’m also happy with about 80% of the source. Same realm, let’s look at the Flex framework… There’s SO much wrong with it, yet we continue to use it and NOT improve it, because we can’t possibly put forth the effort to rewrite everything and hand it out on a silver platter to solve EVERYONE’S problems.. we have to solve ours first, and solve it now. So sure, I’ll rewrite how a list works, and shoot that out into open source, only to be forgotten because it’s only PART of the solution, and really it doesn’t cover what “User F” wants, even though it satisfies “Users A through E.”
    Others can argue that there are people out there doing just that, changing the Flex framework.. ok sure… but that’s less than 1% of the developer population, and the REAL question is…. “ARE YOU USING IT!?!?!?!?!?” I’m willing to bet I’ll hear an emphatic “No” in about 99.9% of the cases out there – for multiple reasons.

    Don’t take my post as being against OSS, I’m wholly for it, but for selfish reasons. Most of which I’ll never openly admit to the interwebs, but only to my “elite clique…”

    ————————-

    Now as for THIS post, it’s obvious he doesn’t want to be countered, and thus doesn’t want your lip, boy!

  2. My comments policy is simple, I filter to limit spam. My blog gets hundreds of spam comments per day and that is why I filter. I had open comments before but it lead to a serious spam problem.

    Your comment was either not posted or deleted with comment filtering. Feel free to post it again, it will get published.

    Cheers,

    Ted :)

  3. Since I’m one of the names you mentioned in your list of elites, I’ll throw in my 2 cents. First of all, I totally agreed with Ted’s post, and commented there to that effect. I also agree with your paraphrased, unapproved comment. Sharing isn’t the ONLY way to get noticed. But it’s probably the most successful way. The Flash community, since its inception has been an open, sharing community. The forums, mailing lists, and now blogs, have always been a fruitful source of knowledge. It’s definitely NOT that way in every tech community.

    Also, as you say, sure, it’s not just sharing. These things you mention are all true: “passion, extra time after hours learning and coding, face time at conferences”. Of course, if you don’t have passion, why bother? If you don’t put in some time learning and coding, you won’t have much to share. As for “time away from family”, not so valid. For me, it’s more like “time away from watching TV or hanging out at clubs”. Family is very important for me. Face time at conferences is a big plus, but not vital. I had already won a Flash Forward rubber arrow and contributed to two books before I went to my first full conference (Flash Forward SF, 2004). The “who you know” one is not valid. That’s a result of the others. It’s not like Mike Chambers is my cousin or Ted Patrick lives next door to me. I met them after making a name for myself.

    I can’t speak for Ted or why he didn’t approve your comment. But he’s a good guy, and I think “Elitist” is the last word I’d use to describe him. Also, there are other comments on the same post that are not in full agreement with him.

  4. Ted, understood. Thanks. As I said, I’m not trying to battle.

    Keith, Thanks for your input. I think we all have different views on the whole subject. Some of our views are the same and some are different. I’ve had people agree with me and I’ve had people disagree with me. Now I would like to clear something up…
    I did NOT put you on any list of elitists. Ted mentioned your name in his post and I used his same list of industry leaders that he did. I also did NOT call Ted an elitist.

    Why is it so hard for people to accept that there are people out there who have those attitudes? I have not called anyone out by name as being an elitist, I’ve simply said they are out there.

  5. Not long ago Sean Moore posted “50+ Important Flash Platform Developers” – a list of influential people in the Flash Community. After reading the list I sent the following tweets to Ted Patrick.

    @adobeted what the Flash platform needs is new blood… if all you have to show is 50 dudes after how many years? http://snurl.com/pnyfb

    @adobeted guaranteed that for every one on that list there are 5 unknowns that would do Adobe good in exchange for 15 mins of fame

    I’ve received no response. I had hopes that he would see a formula… find a developer that’s doing something good in the community and take him/her under your wing and co-present on a topic at MAX with them… co-author an article with them on DEVNET… or send them some Adobe swag out of the blue. Small things? Yes… but imagine the great effect that that kind of effort would have on the community.

    Back in July I entered the Tour de Flex Data Visualization Contest hosted by Greg Wilson (http://gregsramblings.com/) and have yet to see any kind of announcement of the winners. I did see a response (tweet) to someone else that indicated that there were only 5 entrants with a frown emoticon following. I spent a significant amount of time on my entry and was excited at the possibility that perhaps I could gain some of that recognition Ted has been talking about… a road that has been incredibly disappointing to date. It would seem that if you aren’t high enough on the food chain – common courtesy is optional.

    I’ve had at least a dozen (no joke/exaggeration) unsavory experiences like this over the last two years… and have come to a similar conclusion as you; there is a huge disconnect between that is being said and what is being done in “our” community.

    So… I issue an open challenge to “our” evangelists. Prove your utopian dream… “spread” your influence more liberally among the lesser-knowns in the community… “contribute” more fully with the community through active collaboration… aim to double that list of developers by the end of the year… start an investment program to provide developers with great ideas some hardware or pre-release access to software (i.e. multi-touch?)… want more ideas? I’ve got a ton.

    [throws down the gauntlet]

  6. Jason, your post has an entire section devoted to a proof in text and screenshots that I treated your opinion differently than others. Essentially it leaves readers to assume that I filter comments with an unethically bias. If the community views me as unethical, my influence, credibility, and job are worthless.

    I think it is great you have different opinions, I actually encourage everyone to express them on my blog, that is not the issue at all. I have issue with someone publicly accusing me of something I didn’t do, which your post clearly does.

    Ted :)


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