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Questioning the masters

One question: what makes Joel's, Eric Sink's and Steve Pavlina's articles good?
Why are they good?
Where's the independent intelectual entity that validates what they say, that signs beneath their articles and says "This guy is Good(tm)!".
From my point of view, all they do is have an opinion, which everyone has, and say it out loud, which not everyone is brave enough to do.

RP
Friday, June 11, 2004

I did once recommend to Joel that he read the stories of The Emporer's New Clothes and The Wizard of Oz, as an ego-control exercise.

On the other hand, what he writes gets read a lot, especially if you check out all the syndication that goes on, so there must be something of interest in there somewhere.

As with all these things, nobody has all the answers, but as long as this site is still frequented by interesting posters we'll come back. This is in spite of Joel being in self-imposed exile recently.

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, June 11, 2004

They also write clearly and concisely, explaining the thought process which leads to their opinion.  The odd joke helps too.

a cynic writes...
Friday, June 11, 2004

I did once recommend to Joel that he read the stories of The Emporer's New Clothes and The Wizard of Oz, as an ego-control exercise.


he he nice.....

did he get the hump?

jon
Friday, June 11, 2004

I'm not questioning their proper use of the english language. Nor their ability to write software. But *how good* are they? Do they deserve the treatment we give them?
Have you noticed that suddenly we had a rash of developer blogs, and those developers knowing or unknowingly began to have a fan base to their products.
And more specifically about Joel, what happened to the articles? Have they been replaced by book sales?

RP
Friday, June 11, 2004

Watch any news channel, Fox-News, CNN, and they bring some of the top leaders in political analysis and military strategy or whatever.  The rhetoric is something along the lines of, Bush will win the presidency if he wins the war in Iraq, Kerry will win if he can reach out to the south, whatever.  The point, sometimes I have heard better analysis of the issues from talking to a crazy person on bus, but these people are asked to come on these programs because of their background and knowledge in their fields.  Similarly with Joel's website, we come here because of his background in Software, and he will probably confirm ideas that we have had all along about certain issues.

And on other issues, where in the world is this guy?  Where is Joel?

my 2 cents.
Are there any grammatical errors, no, score!

Berlin Brown
Friday, June 11, 2004

I don't know who Eric or Steve are, but as for Joel:

- Most of the time he doesn't tell us anything we don't already know.  He writes in a clear, entertaining way but often makes connections we hadn't thought of.  (The fact that most of the time he's telling us what we already know lends credence to the times he's talking about something we don't have direct experience with.)

- He runs a profitable business using what he preaches.

The "independent intelectual entity" is between your ears.  If you need somebody else to tell you what's good, how do you know *their* advice is good?  (You'd have to get somebody to tell you *that* entity is good...)

X
Friday, June 11, 2004

"Have you noticed that suddenly we had a rash of developer blogs, and those developers knowing or unknowingly began to have a fan base to their products. "

You make it sound like a bad thing. To me it seems like a fantastic thing.

Chris
Friday, June 11, 2004

An independent intelectual entity that decides who is good and who is not.  I can't imagine a more terrible idea.

What decides if these people is good is how many people read and agree with you.  It is purely based on popularity.

If this method isn't good enough, then why do we use it to choose presidents and prime ministers?

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 11, 2004

ged - I think the reason for elections is to allow us to change government without too much bloodshed (see the Plantagenants for examples - especially Edward II). 

The idea is silly anyway, if there was an intellectual body handing out "culture points" then we'd only argue with its decisions - as opposed to arguing directly with "the masters" which is what happens at the moment. 

a cynic writes...
Friday, June 11, 2004

you've missed out what is probably the best of the developer blogs which is Raymond Chen's "The Old New Thing", apart from the fact that  Paul Graham, Steve McConnel or Malcom Fowler or Bruce Togliatti have been around for ages.

As to why they are good, a day reading what everybody else posts on the forum will soon make that clear.

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 11, 2004

Eric re-enforces that which I already know in the back of my brain and makes me bring it "out front".  Joel makes me think of doing things in different ways.

Brad
Friday, June 11, 2004

Joel, Eric Sink, et al  are smart and knowledgable, but ultimately they are nothing more than self-appointed experts.  Sort of like the Rolling Stones who began calling themselves "The Greatest Rock-n-Roll Band in the World" and after a while the media started repeating that label.

Rammalamma Dingdong
Friday, June 11, 2004

Stephen Jones, you're point is pretty valid to me. But Ramalamawhatsisname is also right.

RP
Friday, June 11, 2004

There are many self appointed experts, but only a few of them get other people to agree with them.

The 'Greatest...' label did stick to the Rolling Stones simply because they used it, other people had to pick it up as well.

In contrast compare Michael Jackson's efforts to attain the label 'King Of Pop.'  He can demand that official channels use it all he likes, but it still hasn't stuck. http://www.popcultmag.com/passingfancies/bottomfive/singers/singers1.html

I think some dialog from Red Dwarf fits (quoted from memory):
Rimmer: "Call me by my nickname at school: Ace"
Lister: "Your nickname was Ace?"
Rimmer: "Yes, but nobody would use it, no matter how many times I let them beat me up.

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 11, 2004

Here's the thing:  If there was an independent intellectual entity validating people's points of view, who or what exactly would be giving that entity the authority to do so?  Someone else?  If so, it's not really a independent entity, is it?  If it's not someone else, then how is that better than them just spouting as self-validating entities like they already do?

From whom does authority ultimately derive if not the self?

anon
Friday, June 11, 2004

I totally agree with the comments that you need to make up your own mind about the legitamacy of such public figures.

I think it is unfair, however, to label Joel (can't speak to the others) a "self-appointed expert". In his articles and postings he has never declared himself an expert or guru. He has stated his experiences and his thoughts, usually backed up by well-thought-out arguments. The latter are sadly lacking in most forum posts.

The problem with unduly aggrandizing a columnist is, I think, in the readers, not the writer in this case.

Jeff Kotula
Friday, June 11, 2004

Navel-gazing like this is unhealthy for a particular reason... When you meet someone in person, you seem to understand them more. I occasionally say dumb things, not malicious (I hope!), and it's a lot more comfortable when you don't think every little word could be taken the wrong way. Like when I realize I might be obsessing to the point where I might be considered pushy.

A really important thing is not to accept/reject someone's thoughts like some basic state machine, but to look closely if there's any merit somewhere. I'm certainly not saying I'm perfect in this regard, cuz I prolly ain't, but it's less stressful and timewasting that way for the person offering the idea.

I feel kinda bad for Joel, since Ask Joel was a way to be reactive rather than start articles from scratch. So all the shit he got really painted him in to a corner.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Friday, June 11, 2004

I agree with Jeff above in that I like reading Joel's articles because he actually gives substance to his arguments rather than saying "it should be done this way <period>."

This thread also made me think of another question that I never quite figured out, relating to "independent intellectual entities" and self-appointed authorities in general.  That is, why exactly do companies like Verisign get to charge so much for things like SSL certs?  What is it that makes them so "trustworthy"?  Wouldn't this function be better handled by the FCC, FTC, BBB, <insert gov. acronym here> or some such public agency?

Joe
Friday, June 11, 2004

The philosophical area that covers much of this thread is called "epistemology".  You might like to read some in that field.

For my part, I feel that someone who has made statements in the past which can be verified by my later experience and learning is cut more slack than a person who is new to me or has made statements that don't hold up under investigation or later developments.  Joel's statements, in general, hold up over time so, for me, he is more reliable than others that haven't met that criteria.

Barry Sperling
Friday, June 11, 2004

Geez. CS education still has a long way to go, if this is the best analysis we can get of the new phenomenon of writing about the culture of software development.

Joel is popular and well-known because - wait for it - he's a good writer who also happens to know about software development. That means he can perceive and write well about topics that are interesting to software developers.

Must be a Manager
Friday, June 11, 2004

jon: "he he nice..... did he get the hump?"

You tell me:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2004/04/22.html

Steve Jones (UK)
Saturday, June 12, 2004


> What makes Joel's, Eric Sink's and
> Steve Pavlina's articles good?
> Where's the independent intellectual
> entity that validates what they say,

Oh don't worry about this.  We took
care of this problem some time ago.
You see, we're all certified.

-- Joel and Steve certified me.
-- Steve and I certified Joel.
-- Joel and I certified Steve.

So you see, we're all completely certifiable.

Just trust us, we're smart.

Eric Sink
Saturday, June 12, 2004

LOL!
Got it!

RP
Sunday, June 13, 2004

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