Dan shares his concerns about contributing to the larger web community. Are we encouraging passionate debate or just pulling each other down for the sake of it?
This article was brought to you with thanks to encouragement from Hank Moody, bourbon, and a general frustration towards some of the words of inhabitants of certain corners of the internet.
I can’t really put my finger on why, but every time I’m asked to write an article for someone, I get that awful feeling of wishing the earth might be so kind as to crack open beneath my feet and swallow me up.
Online articles are awesome. There’s nothing better than stumbling upon a perfectly formed answer to a Googled question you’ve been smashing your face against a desk in search of enlightenment for the past hour, or taking a moment out to read a truly enlightening, relatable tale.
A short lifespan
The problem with writing these articles though, is that in our industry, they tend to have quite a short technical validity, in that information about ‘emerging’ or ‘experimental’ techniques (which let’s be honest, is most techniques worth discussing) often becomes redundant pretty quickly, despite the discoverability of said information and the permanence of opinion in the medium which carries it.
I’ve spoken with a few people in web who have concerns about writing helpful technical articles, and if they’re anything like me, it seems to be because they hate being told they’re wrong.
But even ‘wrong’ ideas provoke further thought into a topic, and encourage its development.
Make the web a global rubber duck
Talking your ideas at a rubber duck has been proven to help process thought, so if the internet at large can be a crowdsourced rubber duck that talks back and provokes suggestions for improvement (that second part is a necessary component) to be bounced around, surely that’s an even better resource to have at one’s disposal?
It used to be said that if you didn’t look back at code you wrote a year ago and hate it, you weren’t making progress. At the moment, I’m pretty sure there’s got to be a much, much shorter timescale on that, at least for front-end development, which is all I can (hopefully) reliably speak of.
An environment that encourages passionate debate
It seems that our industry attracts the kind of personality types which enjoy ‘discussion’ about hot topics – both related technically to our work and otherwise – and because of the nature of the work we do, and our proximity to social media, this discussion can occur with incredible ease, and mass interaction. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as debate is on-topic and constructive. Discussion breeds new ideas, and new ideas – most of the time – breed progress.
Staying on-topic though, is what I think we must bear in mind. Progress is daunting, difficult to keep up with, but some areas of our industry are moving very quickly, and any tool we can use to keep up with said progress has got to be a tool worth using to the best of its capacity.
I have been lucky enough to have met, and otherwise know of a lot of really awesome people who like to sit in the corner, shut up, and just get on with producing really awesome production work. A lot of the time, I like to think I’m one of them, and I try and ignore all the petty squabbles that seem to occur so very publicly with the social presence our collective workplace has.
To be really great, there’s a constant strive for perfection, and a frustration of ever-moving goal posts. I like to remind myself from time to time, that this only reinforces the love we have for what we do, in that we wouldn’t feel this frustration, if we didn’t truly care about the work we’re doing.
All contributions to the community that help progress what is essentially, our collective skill-set, are useful in one way or another. What I hope, is that we can just continue to funnel this frustration into doing awesome stuff, and helping others do awesome stuff, while abiding by Wheaton’s Law.
Now I’m going to shut up, and go try to do something awesome with my day, and I hope you have something awesome to be doing too. And hey, if you do or come across something awesome that might be helpful to other people, so they they in turn might be able to become a little more awesome, throw it out there.
Above all though, please: Don’t be a dick.
“Fear. vector man portrait” image courtesy of Bigstock.com