Friday 25 June 2010

The Trouble with Twitter

The thing about Twitter is it's so easy. Sitting down to write a blog post takes time and effort. I want to develop a thesis, establish a reasonable structure, and edit the thing until it flows and becomes a pleasure to read. Ignoring the time spent in advance thinking about the topic, a well-written non-trivial blog post might take me an hour to write (some have taken longer). As a result, I find it increasingly tempting to just dash off 140 characters and toss the result out to the masses.

The trouble is, if you have something to say and you want people to spend their time reading it, you really ought to take the time to craft a proper argument; it seems only fair. I would much rather read a handful of well-written, thought-provoking blog posts than a hundred trivial tweets. And besides, I actually enjoy the writing process.

I'm pretty confidant that some ideas are better suited for tweets and others for blog postss, but the line can be fuzzy. And the temptation of laziness persists so I'm going to need to increase the temptation of effort to counter it. In the meantime, I'll be on Twitter throwing out undeveloped thoughts with everyone else.

Saturday 12 June 2010

This week's events

The VASt Forum in Stuttgart this week was well attended, with maybe 40 attendees. Unfortunately, as the presentations were all running long and I had to leave before the social event, there was quite limited time for discussion; but it was clear that most people were either past or existing Smalltalk users (though not necessarily current VASt customers). This, combined with the increasing regularity of Pharo sprints and the more than forty people who have already signed up for Camp Smalltalk London, seems to be a very good indication of the enthusiasm and growth in the Smalltalk community these days.

Attendance at the Irish Software Show in Dublin has been lower than we expected. My informal counts suggest about 60-80 people in attendance each day. Of interest to me was Wicket, which I had never looked at before; I was quite surprised to see how similar it is to Seaside in some respects and how similarly Andrew Lombardi, who was giving the presentation, described the framework's benefits and his joy when using it.

The web framework panel discussion had about 30 people watching and we had some good discussion there. Attendance at my Seaside talk was probably closer to 10. It would have been nice to have attracted more of the Java developers at the conference (there were about 20 people at the Wicket session earlier in the day) but it was interesting to find out that the majority of those who came had at least played with Smalltalk before.

Other interesting highlights include Kevin Noonan's talk on Clojure (seq's are much like Smalltalk's collection protocol but available on more classes), Matthew McCullough's presentation on Java debugging tools (interesting to see their progress and a also few ideas to look at ourselves), and Tim Berglund's overview of Gaelyk (reminds me disturbingly of writing PHP but the easy deployability and integration of XMPP, email, and Google Auth are cool). The speakers' dinner at the Odessa Club last night was great and we had a number of good discussions there as well.

The above photograph was humourously hung over the urinals in a restroom here in Dublin. I would have thought the slightly disturbing visual association was accidental if there hadn't been five separate copies!

Sunday 6 June 2010

Berlin, product management, and Smalltalk events

Beach bars, cuba libres, bircher müsli. I'd forgotten how classically German these things are but it only takes being away for a few months to make them stand out again.

Thanks to the official un-organizers of Product Camp Berlin, yesterday was a very successful day of discussions and networking. Some interesting points for me were:
  • Kill a feature every day. That way people get used to the process and don't scream so loudly when support for features and platforms needs to be removed. This reminds me of the concepts of constant refactoring and non-ownership in software development, which helps ensure that people are similarly used to code going away.
  • The problem may be your pricing model. When products (in startups particularly) begin to flounder, there may be nothing wrong with the product itself. Sometimes a simple tweak of the pricing model can be the most effective solution.
  • The best way to unofficially kill a product is to publicly announce a "rewrite". Customers will avoid investing in the old system like the plague, rapidly starving the product of all its revenue.
  • It sounds like there are some interesting products on the way from Nokia.
  • This is my second conference since I actively started using twitter — it was not as well used this time but I still really like the technology for this sort of use case: it's great to see what you're missing, share your thoughts, and catch up with people after the event is over.
The weather was gorgeous in Berlin but has turned foul in southern Germany today. No big deal though as I've been slogging away indoors at my presentation for epicenter in Dublin on Thursday. I'm getting close with my slides and looking forward to the event but, before I can get that checked off my list, it's off to Stuttgart tomorrow evening for the VASt Forum.

[update: I've been offered 10 discount tickets for epicenter to give away; details here if you'd like to come see me in Dublin this week.]

For those wanting to attend the Camp Smalltalk London event on July 16-18, make sure you head over and sign up now. It's looking like we're going to fill up even our expanded capacity. If it's full by the time you get there, add yourself to the waiting list and we'll see what we can do.