2011 06 15

From TheCommandLineWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

Feature Cast for 2011-06-15

(00:00:17.335) Intro

(00:03:20.120) Listener Feedback

  • From Jed, in response to Tiffany Rad interview
    • On responsible disclosure

(00:05:47.956) Hacker Word of the Week: flat-file

(00:06:20.681) Inner Chapter: Presence

  • I've routinely struggled with the idea that advocating for change requires zealotry
    • I am not a fan of extreme statements
    • They too often coincide with a presumption that everyone else should change
      • Without considering whether doing so makes the most sense
    • Implicit in that assumption is the notion that those who should change
      • Are currently wrong in what they are thinking or doing
    • Understanding is at least as important in shifting norms and behavior
    • I think too much emphasis on the latter can too easily preclude the former
    • I feel that humility and an approach of questioning and conversing
      • Is much more persuasive than bold assertions
    • Declaiming a set of principles at volume neglects the act of explaining
    • Even if you cannot convince someone to change what they are doing
      • If you can reach some mutual understanding, that is a worthwhile goal
    • It may shift the balance in their future thought around a choice or action
    • On the web in particular, there is certainly room enough for multiple approaches
    • Shouted exhortations of some view can coexist with more reasoned explanations
    • I find loud voices are often easier to find online
    • As a consequence, they may shape early impressions on an issue
      • Perhaps dissuading the curious from taking the time
        • To read any substantiating or supporting material that also may be on offer
    • Zealotry in my experience too often invites snap judgements based on tone
      • Rather than thoughtful consideration based on the actual content of an argument
    • This effect is so prevalent that even when I think I am using more of an explanatory tone
      • I often receive criticism or at least questions about why I am being a zealot
    • In sharing my personal choice to switch back to Linux from a proprietary operating system
      • As often as note I had people assume I was advocating that they also switch
      • Rather than reading what I had intended, just a personal story
        • Without any intentional judgment or calls for others to necessarily change
    • I've been wondering if we need more examples of a less strident way
      • To participate in discussions of issues that are often polarized
      • Where zealotry on both sides is all too much in evidence
    • In reacting to more strident voices, I realized that there may just be such a middle way
    • It was while contemplating some smaller cases, more from my professional experience
      • That the idea of inviting conversation and the possibility of change
        • Through mere presence started to emerge
  • There is room for modest, persistent action as well as focused pushes for change
    • I talked about effecting change in a previous inner chapter
    • The idea in that piece was the consideration of how we approach
      • Producing a specific, desired outcome
    • Sometimes change is more subtle, like the refinement of an organization's principles
    • When there is no easily measured end point for a desired change
      • Like improving the cohesiveness, the dynamic of a team
      • Or increasing the engineering discipline across the board
        • Then presence may be worth keeping in mind
    • If the desired goals are diffuse, touching on many different activities and efforts
      • Then they may defy the ability to come up with simple steps to follow
    • Presence can most easily take the form of setting an example
    • It may not always be easy to be highly visible when acting in accord with some principle
    • A willingness to participate in ad hoc or hallway discussions can help
    • Talking shop often provides a safe way to pose questions that might be frowned upon
      • In more formal settings like project planning or code review
    • Such conversations are at the personal scale, between a couple or a few collaborators
      • Whereas project meetings and documents are a bit more one to many
        • And fail to admit questions and the sort of conversational mulling over
        • That helps those on the ground, doing some work start to internalize new ideas
    • Another way presence can be felt is where there is a fixed and historical medium
    • Simply sharing a blog or a space for communal messaging can leave a log
      • Of ideas and conversations that can encourage gradual improvement just by their existence
    • For programmers, the code itself serves much the same purpose
    • It is one thing to talk about this principle or that approach
      • It is another thing entirely when a team mate or collaborator
      • Can look over your code and see your principles directly represented
    • Code, like blogs and chats, also expands into a historical dimensional
      • More so than mere conversation
    • Commits, and even the messages accompanying commits, keep accumulating over time
    • Your peers may not always be receptive at all times to the gradual push towards a broad change
    • If you are consistent in how your code embodies key principles
      • Then your code is available whenever those reviewing and contributing to it are receptive
    • For me, this is why discussions of style matter
      • Not to bicker about preferred bracket placement
      • But to embody broad ideals towards which we want to strive
    • Keeping in mind the audiences for your code, even more so with open source projects
      • Means remembering that how you craft software is as much about what it does
      • As how it communicates with other hackers capable of reading the source
    • How do you get your code to best reflect your presence on a project?
    • I would say by paying more attention to your personal discipline and consistency
    • Very often in my experience, hackers who are most vocal about some valued principle
      • Are most often the ones who demonstrate it the least in their own commits
    • Plus being able to talk about how you better worked in key values into your efforts
      • Is a more humble approach, I think, to discussing those principles
        • Than citing some authority chapter and verse
        • Or directly criticizing someone else's work, ignoring the quality of your own
  • BREAK
  • The force of personality through mindful participation is a powerful force
    • For one I think it is the basis of real admiration
    • Looking up to how someone else works and thinks is an excellent motivator
    • I think we all want to be thought well of
    • Emulating someone whose work and principles we admire
      • Seems like a reasonable way to act on, to repay that respect
    • One example from my own life in the area of public speaking
      • At the risk of embarrassing him, is my friend Tee
      • First and foremost, he worked to get me opportunities to speak
        • Before I even realized I had anything to say or distinctive voice to add
      • I had a couple of instances when I first started participating on panels at conventions
        • Where I strongly questioned why I was included for certain topics
      • I'll admit that I didn't act with the most amount of grace
        • Failing to represent myself well
      • Thankfully, no one said anything to me, I saw a picture a friend had taken of me
        • In one of those moments and realized the sour look on my face wasn't how I wanted to be seen
      • I wanted to find an example for how I could do better
        • And realized I had an excellent one already, one very accessible to me
      • I both reviewed my memories of Tee as a panelist and speaker
        • And actively paid more attention from then on when seeing him in public
      • At that time, when I was cultivating my own presence and trying to do better
        • I held his example close, trying to do as he did
          • In terms of always having something constructive to say
          • And respectfully helping others have a turn adding to any conversation
    • Another example, from my professional experience is one of the last mentors I had
      • I often had excellent conversations with my former co-worker Brandon
      • He was very skilled at clearly explaining the benefit of some practice or principle
      • Far more importantly, every piece of code he wrote clearly showed
        • His own personal commitment to the ideals he espoused
      • It wasn't anything he made a big deal of, it was just a consistency
        • That gave his voice in discussions far more weight
      • I suppose Brandon's example is why I also now try to embody
        • All of the advice I offer to others in all of my own work
      • Going back to my Linux switch, on a somewhat unrelated note
        • That desire for identity between what I recommend and what I do myself
          • Was a large part of the reason I undertook the effort
          • To switch my day to day work and the podcast to an open stack
    • That follow through, the force of dozens, hundreds or thousands of accumulated small acts
      • I think gives a certain authority to even a modest, quiet voice
      • The example it sets is clear and unambiguous
      • If someone else can simply do what the say, time and again
        • It invites us to try to follow in those footsteps
          • To match actions to words not in a big flashy way
          • But in every small decision, every seemingly inconsequential activity
      • This approach of gradual and persistent movement
        • Also matches well with another value I held
        • That excellence is achieved through continual, incremental improvement
      • Big showy gestures are susceptible to complex and difficult to recover failures
      • I am not averse from failure as I think the teaching it offers is as valuable
        • In its own way as success
      • Focusing on the small scale means that failure when it occurs
        • Is much easier to digest, to learn from so it better informs the next change down the line
  • BREAK
  • I want to really stress how presence is felt through personal connections
    • Often it is expressed through a willingness to tell stories
      • To explain views and principles being what others see
        • As a long chain of consistent, small acts
    • Keeping it to this individual scale makes it relatable
    • Big gestures and sentiments may not be approachable
    • As I said at the outset, when they are shouted too loudly they may be off putting
    • This was actually a recurring theme at PdF
    • Many examples from the Arab Spring were shared
      • Ones that drove home that in many case what moved folks
        • From passively watching to engagement and acting
        • Was how accessible the personal narratives were
    • These stories also emphasized how activism need not be one size fits all
      • But rather each person can find their own way to add to the overall effort
        • To make a lasting change
  • It has been said that a large part of life is merely showing up
    • The act of being there, however, is rarely entirely passive
    • Usually you need to pack your bag, hop on the bus, either figuratively or metaphorically
    • That means you are overcoming the static friction that often locks us in place
    • Consistently turning up also increases the opportunities
      • To act, to connect, to speak at a critical time
    • In many ways, cultivating a loud voice is easy
      • Spouting some talking points at any and every turn
    • The courage to act is no less diminished in the simple moment
      • Of deciding to be present, to be there, to be available and engaged
      • Whether there is something showy to be done or provocative to say
    • Presence requires patience but I suspect the exercise of it
      • Will be far more rewarding in the long run
      • As a model of how to support and encourage change for the better
      • Than more demonstrative and visible ways to strive for the same end

(00:22:07.457) Outro

Personal tools