Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

professionalism and lemonade

Author:David McCusker
Posted:9/27/2000; 10:29:03 AM
Topic:professionalism and lemonade
Msg #:21783
Prev/Next:21782 / 21784

(I mix two topics to forestall a tendency to anticipate my message. Take two metaphors and smash them together. A collision makes particles that are hard to pigeonhole.)

I think Dave Winer acted with a reasonable amount of professionalism in his tiff with Tim O'Reilly. Bringing up professionalism at all seems a spin attack, since the word often occurs in a context of seeing the lack of it in someone under discussion. So it is highly prejudicial.

The essence of professionalism is whether one will do something for reasons of duty rather than personal feeling, especially in the context of providing service. A professional person has principles and enough emotional control to act on principle enough of the time.

To say someone lacks professionalism is to say they lack either principles or any emotional control. Folks can confuse these two goals with whether a person follows orders and acts with complete absence of emotion. But neither of those extremes is desirable either.

So the spin attack in this case is based on whether a person does what they are told and acts completely without emotion. Since no one but an automaton does this, every person who goes to trial over professionalism gets hanged, unless one sees through the linguistic subterfuge.

I absolutely want to see folks act with emotion. I like human beings most who care about things. As a consequence they show anger, pride, sadness, hurt, and every other response appropriate for negotiating terms in everyday life. I see a person who doesn't show such emotions as a liar.

As for principles, I can't see how someone can miss that Dave Winer has them and gives them high priority. One has only to read his excellent writings to see this. That he doesn't do what you want if he followed your orders is not an indictment. It's great he has an independent mind.

I don't care about the fight with Tim O'Reilly. And two folks who scuffle with each other will have cuts and bruises afterwards. Put on a bandaid and forget about them. I don't care who was right. I'm satisfied the conflict shows a lot of personal motivations are involved. Everything is fine as long as everone acknowledges a modicum of personal agenda.

There are two kinds of people in the world -- those who make public scenes and those who don't. In the RSS scuffle, Dave Winer fits in the former and Tim O'Reilly fits in the latter. Sometimes folks in these roles overplay their parts a bit, and this goes for both sides. For example, I find it offensive when scene makers are vilified by the scene hiders for airing dirty laundry. Either negotiate or don't make dirty laundry.

What about the lemonade?

Okay, that was a lot of paragraphs without any lemonade. Life is filled with things that suck, but when life hands you lemons you can try to make lemonade. In fact, lemons should make you think about lemonade automatically. When things start to suck, start looking around for the lemonade fixings.

The next time somone tries to punch you in the nose, think about how you can make lemonade with this. Yes, you might end up with a bloody nose too, but maybe the lemonade is sweeter. If you're hurting then it's your job to figure out how to find the good part. Write an essay or make a new friend, or something.

Many good things in life arrive on the heels of pain. Look around for it, or figure it out when it requires contemplation. This usually doesn't make up for the pain itself. It doesn't work that way. There's no reason to absorb a big loss. But if you think you must, then you can often gain something elsewhere.

So the trick is not minding. (That's all? Man what a gyp!)

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