Bryan Hughes on intentions

Thoughts

Bryan was a former member of Node.js’s Technical Steering Committee. He left the project in 2017 with some specific insight that I think is broadly useful:

I do not believe Rod did this intentionally, or that he is a bad actor in the classical definition. Rather, his bad behavior stems from ignorance and an unwillingness to learn. Rod’s intentions don’t really matter though. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This explains more than a few interactions I’ve had online. I’ve struggled here to articulate and reconcile the idea that someone isn’t being intentionally malicious, but their actions are still destructive.

My biggest open question is still whether willful ignorance also counts as deliberate, malicious behavior itself. I’m thinking it comes down to awareness and agency: whether someone is ignorant because they don’t know better, or whether they’ve put the effort into avoiding it despite knowing their behavior is damaging. The latter is inexcusable, and the former is increasingly difficult to defend given how much information is readily available.

Related, Merlin Mann’s comment from RecDiffs:

I don’t think they deserve my struggling this much to understand their motivation.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and IaaS engineer in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Wait, not BIOS… my brain should be EFI by now.

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