D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Rob Conerey – Heretical Ranting in Norway

Monday, June 21, 2010 12:43 AM

Saw this on Twitter tonight:


Rob’s blog posts always generate some colourful comments, so when I see a tweet with his name and “Bridges were burnt”, I’m thinking this is going to be quite the talk.

The talk in question is titled “The Next Big Thing or Cool-Kid Koolaid? Slicing Through the Rhetoric of MVC vs. WebForms”. Since Rob was part of the MS-MVC team at one point, getting his view of the MVC vs. Webforms debate does sound intriguing and I’m sure many attended thinking that’s what they were going to get. But instead (and fortunately for us), that’s not what was presented. In fact, there wasn’t anything really about MVC vs. Webforms at all.

Instead, Rob leads us on an interesting and revealing ride that touches on:

The absurdity (my word, not his) that developer alliance to a tool or technology set really is.

The “Client vs. Cultist” mentality of developers who would rather be instructed what’s best for them instead of thinking for themselves.

His opinion of Microsoft and the true loss that Bill Gates leaving really had on the company.

Interlaced through his talk are stories from his days with Microsoft, his experience as a start-up founder, and his own professional journey as a developer. Lots of great stuff there.

I don’t want to explain more about the content of the video since, well, you can just *watch* the video. But I did want to speak to the sentiment some may have that comments made in the talk will “burn bridges” or that this is just some sort of veiled personal attack on a former employer by a jaded Hawaiian who’s gotten too much sun while surfing.

I’m almost through Seth Godin’s fantastic book Tribes, and while watching Rob’s presentation I felt like I was seeing Godin’s concepts in action. Note that I titled this blog post “Heretical Ranting in Norway”. “Heretic” has a negative connotation to it. But consider what Godin writes:

The reason its so difficult to have a considered conversation about religion is that people feel threatened. Not by the implied criticism of the rituals or irrationality of a particular religious practice, but because it feels like criticism of their faith.

Faith, as we have seen, is the cornerstone that keeps our organizations together. Faith is the cornerstone of humanity; we can’t live without it. But religion is very different from faith. Religion is just a set of invented protocols, rules to live by (for now). Heretics challenge a given religion, but do it from a very strong foundation of faith. In order to lead, you must challenge the status quo of the religion you’re living under.

Religion and faith are often confused. Someone who opposes faith is called an atheist and widely reviled. But we don’t have a common word for someone who opposes a particular religion.

Heretic will have to do.

Godin also writes:

It’s easy to get caught up in the foibles of a corporate culture and the systems that have been built over time, but they have nothing at all to do with the faith that built the system in the first place

So yes Rob’s talk was heretical. He’s seen Microsoft go from a company driving the technology landscape to a company creating also-ran products in markets they’re coming late to. A company that was run by a visionary technologist and is now run by a salesman. A company that focuses more on making money through licensing schemes than through true productivity tools and solutions.

He’s seen developers get hung up on technical allegiances and pre-conceived notions that prevent them from realizing what options are available to them for doing what they’re supposed to be really passionate about: solving problems through technology.

He’s seen the apathy in our industry that takes a “feed me” attitude from vendors instead of individuals owning their own education and actively learning new technologies and techniques.

And it bothers him enough to say something about it, to speak up against it and provoke people to think about it.

K, so in summary, here are takeaways from this blog post:

First, go watch the session. Download it, do a lunch and learn on it at work, discuss it…the conversations that this material can drive are highly valuable to any organization. You can view it online or download it from this site.

Second, go buy Seth Godin’s Tribes. I cannot speak highly enough about this book…fantastic!

Thirdly, seriously self-assess your career life. Are you simply following the technology road map that’s being given to you, or are you blazing your own trail? Realize that I’m not saying that everyone needs to come to the same conclusion. Having two daughters, my non-work time cannot be fully committed to reading up on the latest technical nuances; others may have similar time constraints. What I am saying is to at least think about it. We as human’s don’t seem to do enough self analysis, review, and thought in our lives anymore.

Ok…off the soapbox. To end this on a bit of a light note, I’ve used Rob as a target for my artistic/humorous side multiple times such as this, or this, and of course this where I dissected his Wrox book cover picture. So, I end with this:





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