"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blogospheric Debt

I recently learned about the concept of technical debt, which goes a long way to explaining the difficulties I have with some work projects, especially ones that involve other people's code and designs. But it also makes me realize there are other sorts of debt. I am in the grips of journalistic debt, or perhaps, if that is too grand, of blogospheric debt.

First of all I owe y'all a couple of book reviews.

I'm enormously interested in Chris & Sheril's book Unscientific America, and they apparently sent me a review copy which never made it to me for some reason. Then they went so far as to send a second copy. So I really owe this book its due. But even before that happened I got a review copy of What's the Worst that Could Happen? by Greg Craven, which I read half of and then misplaced!

So now I am in a traffic jam, feeling that I owe Greg a review before Chris and Sheril, and looking high and low, not finding Greg's book.

Plus I owe you a report on the Energy and Water meeting I attended last week and a written version of my cybernetics and climate talk. Also I would like to discuss why I'm not entirely happy with the outcome of the McLean affair that others are celebrating.

And now there is the tarpit of Morano's magnum opus released today. The good news is he's fired all his ammunition with this one; it's not likely he has anything major up his sleeve after that. The bad news is it looks, to an uninformed reader, like a coherent story at first blush. There will be some work involved in responding successfully to it in a way that appears other than defensive. It's like national debt due to bad government in the past, not debt we wanted or needed but pretty much an inescapable obligation.

I think a couple of quick responses today would be good; I'll write one and I recommend you do too. But this calls for a compelling rebuttal at length as well. Writing one that is both effective and readable will be a challenge.


James Annan said...

You should write worser - then no-one would offer you books to review :-)

Someone who should not be named once promised me a book, but never came through with it...I could buy it but it hardly seems worth it given the number of reviews on the web.

Marion Delgado said...

I always do everything "quick-and-dirty" (Commenting as I go). Then I go back and abstract out what I can, to modules and objects. I dunno if there's a "real things world" analog, but without this style I'd never get anything done.

AHA! I have a deeply self-flattering analogy! What I do is like paying with credit cards for convenience but paying them off every month - you not only get more done with less time, but you get every discount a person with a good credit rating gets.

The other way (constant perfectionism) would be budgeting tightly without any liquidity or ability to leverage or extend yourself to take advantage of short windows of opportunity.

But good to know the ones I don't go back and fix are still probably worth it.

Hank Roberts said...

There used to be a guy on the Usenet who'd show up immediately whenever anyone, in any newsgroup, on any subject, mentioned his name.

Morano's doing the same thing nowadays