I want to buy an argument

by Volker Weber

Cliff Reeves makes a good point in his post "Is it dangerous to criticise Lotus Notes?":

Rod made a case that could be argued. Like most arguments, his wasn't watertight, and smart people could (and do) differ. However, the reaction was over the top. Can we get to an online environment where it's OK to disagree and, instead of attacking people, it's the quality of our arguments that speak for us?

Well said, Cliff.

Comments

Rod made a case that was technically and factually incorrect. It cannot be argued; he was and is simply wrong. Whether the reaction was over the top can be argued. Whether one can remove all of one's Notes server by screen-scraping data and hiring $30/hr programmers for an afternoon cannot be argued. It can be laughed at, though, and perhaps should have been.

In the blogosphere it is always dangerous to attack someone else's livelihood. It is also always dangerous to say something dumb. People will call you on it. If you do both at the same time, they will be insulting when they do so. I don't see why this is unusual, nor do I think it is remotely unique to Notes.

Rob McDonagh, 2006-10-10

Online respnses have long lacked civility and -- unnecessary as it is -- there's no point complaining about it in general.

However, I think the swarming responses to a Notes post are generally lesss balanced than those around other technologies (like AppExchange, Dreamweaver, Sharepoint, whatever): they are a little more immediate, and the respiondents include invariably a small number of people.

The Notes community is unusual (I think) in how quickly they cheer small vctories, pounce on competitive points, and quickly mount a personal attack on anyone who challenges their position. I can only guess why this is, but my guesses are:

- it's a tightly-knit community that is fiercely attached to Notes
- it's a community whose product is under considerable pressure -- not just from competitors, but from IBM (who has waffled a bit on its future) and from analysts (who suggest it is in decline).

Cliff Reeves, 2006-10-10

On re-reading my comment, I would like to complete it:

The Notes community is unusual (I think) in how quickly they cheer small vctories, pounce on competitive points, and mount a personal attack on anyone who challenges their position. I can only guess why this is, but my guesses are:
- it's a tightly-knit community that is fiercely attached to Notes
- it's a community whose product is under considerable pressure -- not just from competitors, but from IBM (who has waffled a bit on its future) and from analysts (who suggest it is in decline).

Clearly this is a subjective view, and also that teh difference I've observed is a matter of degree. I'd add, though, that confident communities don't react quite in this way.

Cliff Reeves, 2006-10-10

As you say, Cliff, that is a subjective view. I could say similar things about other (online and real world) communities, and neither you nor anyone else could prove that I am wrong, so there is truly no point in debating it.

Your contention that "confident communities don't react quite in this way" is also subjective and inarguable. You may be entirely correct. I don't think you are.

There: neither one of us has said anything that can be considered on a factual or technical level to be correct or incorrect. There is a huge difference between this discussion and the one Rod initiated, and the difference is that Rod made specific, provable statements that are blatantly absurd.

Rob McDonagh, 2006-10-10

Rob, here is the next guy to beat up.

Volker Weber, 2006-10-10

Volker, why would I want to beat Robert up? He didn't say anything I disagree with. Or at least, nothing that causes me to do any more than shrug. He's mostly just taking a shot at Ed, who is certainly capable of responding if it bothers him.

In case you're being 100% serious and weren't smiling a bit when you wrote that, I often agree when you point out IBM's follies, and sometimes I even do it in writing right here. I'm not an IBM apologist by any stretch of the imagination.

It's true, though, that I don't like it when people say something unbelievably stupid, technically impossible, and arrogant, yet think that because said statement is fully Buzzword Compliant (how many 2.0 references can I put in a page, anyway?) we should all simply allow the statement to stand unchallenged. I can be quite a b*st*rd about it, in fact. In this case, I've been positively well-behaved, I think.

Rob McDonagh, 2006-10-10

Who is this Cliff? From his pages at Microsoft I understand he had something to do with Lotus in former days. What? And why did he leave?

Torben Vendelev, 2006-10-10

Rob, I did smile. But I forgot to put the smilie there.

Torben, Cliff Reeves was Vice President of Product Management at Lotus, and he was a very senior manager at IBM before that. If he feels so inclined, he will tell you a bit more.

Volker Weber, 2006-10-10

Volker, you should upgrade to Smilie 2.0 - it not only detects your facial expression automatically, it can even replace your whole comment system. After all, everything but the smilies is really just unnecessary, and not very user-friendly, either.

:D

Rob McDonagh, 2006-10-11

Cliff,

The problem is that people like this idiot take their experience as a poorly supported end user struggling with bad applications, and declare it to be the state of the art.

Real world situation I am aware of: 16,000 employees. Notes for mail and collaboration -- hundreds of applications.

At this company:

Notes Support, Admin, & Development responsible for 16,000 mail boxes, and hundreds of applications == 16 people.

Desktop support -- responsible for the Operating System (Microsoft) and Office productivity software (Microsoft) == 350 people.

In this company, like so many others, the Lotus guys feel like the maytag repairmen. They have a little corner of one building and quietly solve problems for the whole company. They feel like the only ones supporting Notes. They have no idea the market is nearly equally split (pick your source and the balance shifts).

That common feeling of contstantly being told that your solution platform of choice -- the one you're using every day to solve problems and save money -- needs to be replaced for reasons nobody can actually justify.

Web 2.0 -- as if that's actually a real thing beyond some techniques and software versions -- is closer to a bunch of departmental access databases and shared spreadsheets. Useful, but totally unsecure, unmanaged, and poorly integrated into any kind of corporate schema.

Sharepoint at least attemps to solve the problem (I don't believe it actually does yet, but assume we dissagree). "LAMP" based web 2.0 bullshit doesn't come close to being enterprise ready.

Andrew Pollack, 2006-10-11

OK, OK, Rod and Cliff and you are right. Based on Rod's revelations, I think I'll rewrite my resume:

1992-2005
CEO, Benz Technologies

Forestalling change and shooting messengers while propping up a clearly inferior platform that does nothing important. Fleecing slothful, change-resistant clients out of relatively small budget amounts while tricking them into believing that the systems I wrote provided large contributions to their company's bottom line. Backed results up with measurable financial gain, but given how tricky I must be and how docile my clients must be, that was probably a bunch of lies too. Wrote books, articles, and presentations to reinforce the deception.

I'm sure you guys can add to this....please, let me know what I missed!

Brian Benz, 2006-10-11

Brian, what is this? An attempt in civilized discussion or the start of a new trend? Truth in resumés. :-)

Volker Weber, 2006-10-11

@Brian -
You could add a neat quote from Winston Churchill (who had a rather impressive resume as well):

"We have done so much, yet there is so much left to do."

Bob Balaban, 2006-10-11

Well, I thought it was pretty funny :)

Rod Did too: http://bbenz.typepad.com/softwaresoapbox/2006/10/rewriting_my_re.html#comment-23740051.

Gotta see some humor in this...

Brian Benz, 2006-10-11

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