Oct 172002

I, like everyone else, read Steven Den Beste of USS Clueless regularly. But he often writes at great length. Herewith, in the tradition of Mickey Kaus’s Series-Skipper™, and with thanks to Mark Wickens for the idea, the digested version. Not sure if you want to wade in? Stop here first and then decide!

Stardate: 20021016.1616
Title: It’s OK To Be Wrong
Word Count: 3,940
Impetus: Various correspondents criticizing him for not doing “research.”
Thesis: The blogosphere is a sort of hive mind, where ideas can be circulated and corrected quickly. Den Beste, in particular, runs his blog this way. He’d rather write something quickly that he’s reasonably sure of and have others correct it than spend weeks researching and polishing it. He wants, in engineering parlance, to ship. (And boy, does he ever ship!)
Engineering Analogy: “Egoless programming” — the philosophy, in software, that the individual programmer does not own the code he has written, but that the whole team owns the whole product. Every piece of code and document is reviewed by other team members, to catch mistakes as quickly as possible. This is what bloggers are doing when they talk about “fact-checking his ass.”
Best Quote:The most fundamental rule in engineering, even more basic than Murphy’s Law, is: Everyone fucks up.
Bonus Irony: Den Beste does not permit comments on his blog. In fairness, he is probably too popular to do so.

  One Response to “Introducing…Den Beste Digeste”

  1. Actually, I do allow comments. First, of course, is that anyone is free to post criticism or comment on their own site, and if I know about it and if they make a substantive comment (whether positive or negative) I link to it.

    Second is that they can write to me, and if I think their comments are globally interesting I will post it myself.

    But when I was running a forum on my site, the effect of it was not to enhance the process, but simply to make me hate what was going on. The discussions in the forum rarely had much to do with what I was writing and became something I felt compelled to police, a burden rather than a joy.

    And in the long run, the only real reason why I put as much effort (and outright money, more than $200 per month) into my site is because it’s satisfying for me to do so.

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