James Governor's Monkchips

Read Kurt Kagle

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Last week someone suggested I cut the politics out of monkchips if I want to build a community, especially with “naturally conservative” folks like we find in corporate America.
I am not great at self-censorship though, and I tend to believe it plays into the hands of those that would prefer to see us not debate issues of great importance. Self-censorship discourages transparency, becasue transparency is a two way process.  
Am I at least allowed to point at someone else’s screed?: Pseudo-blogs, (un)intelligent design and Astroturf.
Oh yeah – don’t read Kurt Kagle if thinking that falls outside “naturally conservative” makes you feel angry, because you will just end with up higher blood pressure.
Unlike Kurt, I have no more faith in developers’ understanding of truth than anyone else’s. Programmers in my experience are great at symbolic logic but they are just as likely to be found dancing around a totem pole chanting in the dark as anyone else. Certainly i would be terrified of a government run by and for developers… didn’t you know binary thinking can be dangerous?
All in all though I enjoyed reading his arguments, and the way they tie a lot of different ideas and trends together.  But if you prefer technical and industry analysis without any blood pressure inducers I would recommend his XML 2005 coverage from last month, which benefits from his contextual style. 


  1. James,

    By and large, I do not believe that programmers are naturally superior or more able than anyone else, especially in the social sphere – you don’t get to develop an intimate relationship with things as dry and eye-crossing as technical specifications, programming APIs and “cool” programming techniques that generally require characters not generally found on most keyboards if you actually have even a normal degree of social aptitude.

    It’s also my observation (I believe echoed by many others) that you do not let programmers design computer interfaces that will be used by others, because they will always be hyper-functional, have more configurable components than many modern commercial aircraft and be completely hostile to even “power” users. Thus a government run by programmers would look a lot like … um, Linux – capable of doing about anything, stable as a cathedral, and about as user friendly as a porcupine.

    (Oh, I also would expand on your comment – programmers in general are far more likely to be dancing around a totem pole than the average person, quite possibly skyclad, and most could give you a fairly in-depth analysis of the differences between one branch of paganism and the next while laying their pentagrams.)

    Programmers have no innate superiority save in the fact that they do understand the nature of symbolism, and as a consequence tend to be more readily able to distinguish between the real and the symbolic than the average fundamentalist, and consequently are more likely to at least have an inkling how to manipulate those symbols … or to recognize when their personal symbols are being deliberately manipulated by others.

    Thanks for the compliments – and if I’ve raised a few people’s blood pressure, well, that’s what glycerin’s for … ๐Ÿ˜‰

    — Kurt

  2. heh. hey – i had to disagree with something. i like the way you picked up and ran with my burning man point in your comments. thanks.

  3. James,

    I know that you are not a fan of self-censorship – frankly, I’m not either, but I’ve found that for me – holding my tongue when I really, really, really want to say something often allows me to better articulate the issue by waiting just a bit or allows me to find the proper forum for making my case.

    I praise you in your efforts to keep politics to a minimum as I believe that most of your readers are looking for your thoughts and insights on the technology industry. (eliminating them completely from your blog would be out of character.) I will also look for the opportunities to have animated political discussions with you when we find ourselves in the same city or when something happens that is so unbelieveable that we simply must chat… we are on the same side here, but generally staying on message is always important (as you have reminded us in countless briefings)
    …and look for a note in email from me on a subject we can rant about! TJ

  4. come on teressa, i am surely not that a big exponent of staying “on message”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    my consulting is surely too cluetrain influenced for that. on the other hand i have surely advised IBM groups to reduce language conflicts where possible.

    I am also avowedly reality-based. Sometimes staying on message is the quickest root to self-deception. But then, you’re getting me started on politics again… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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