Prickly IT pears


(The permalink for this post is prickly-it-personalities, but I liked the silly pun too much).

I’m sitting here at a coffee shop in Millenia Walk, just down the road from where the Singapore Grand Prix was on the weekend. I spent so much of my later teens working and studying remote from here, so sitting here a decade later doing the same thing but for a company back Sydney is surreal. So much has changed, but as the saying goes, so much is the same.

I’ve had more time to think about my earlier post about discouragement in IT, specifically on certain personalities within the tech community. And today it’s based on a specific reaction to the Stallman Issue by another tech lumininary who I’ll keep anonymous, who published his email advice to Mr Stallman’s press secretary:

I feel for Stallman. On the other hand he had a long run and was celebrated in so many ways, given an office at MIT, had a foundation. Some of us would have loved that kind of support. ;-)

As his PR person I think you can help by first learning from others’ mistakes in these situations. There have now been lots of them. A mistake a lot of people make is trying to fight back or argue with the judgement. I don’t think that works. If he has the money, taking some time off, writing software perhaps, fixing bugs in other people’s stuff. Not being such a big guy for a while. Live a human-size life. Imagine what he could come up with if he wasn’t always out traveling and evangelizing? I’ve done it. I even write software just for myself these days, no intention to publish ever.

Best advice is to slow down, set your expectations on a longer horizon, and do some self-improvement.

Barring the most dangerous and disconnected psychopaths, I do believe everyone is capable of redeeming themselves. It’s why most prison sentences have a finite time. Showing contrition, a willingness to learn, and helping those you’ve harmed are how you grow. And conversely, learning the ability to forgive. I’ve been on both sides of that, as I’m sure we all have.

That’s what was missing from that above advice.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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