Sam Ruby writes

 Ted Leung: If I'm looking for thought leadership from the community, in the Java community, I'm looking towards the non Sun bloggers -- these are the folks doing AOP, Groovy, SGen, Prevalence, WebWork, etc. This shows the rich ecosystem that has grown up around Java. If I look at the .NET community, I pretty much look for the MS bloggers.

Let's not confuse cause and effect here.  There used to be plenty of .Net bloggers who didn't work for Microsoft. 

It seems Sam and Ted have different ideas of what thought leadership is from me. When I think of thought leadership I think of ideas that add to the pool of common practices or impact the way developers work and think. Examples of thought leadership are the ideas in the GoF's Design Patterns or the writings of Joel Spolsky.

I read a lot of blogs from Microsoft and non-Microsoft people about .NET development and I see more thought leadership from non-Microsoft people than I do from Microsoft people. What I see from Microsoft people is what I'll term accidental thought leadership. Basically if I'm the developer or PM that designed or implemented component X then it stands to reason that I'm better placed to talk about it than others. Similarly if I'm one of the folks designing or implementing future technology Y then it stands to reason I'd be the best placed to talk about Longhorn/Indigo/Avalon/WinFS/Whidbey/Yukon/etc. Also the other thing is that it more interesting to read about upcoming future technology than it is to read about how best to use existing technology which is why people tend to flock to the blogs of the folks working on future stuff and ignore the Microsoft bloggers talking about existing technologies until they need a workaround for some bug.

Personally, the only real thought leadership I've seen from the 200 or so Microsoft blogs I've read have come from folks like Erik Meijer and Don Box. I see a lot of Microsoft people blogging about SOA but to me most of them are warmed over ideas that folks like Pat Helland have been talking about for years. When I think of thought leadership in the .NET world I'm more likely to think of Sam Gentile or Clemens Vastersr than I am to think of some blue badge carrying employee at the Redmond campus.  

What I do find interesting is that a Sun employee, Simon Phipps, is actually trying to use this to score points and claim that the lack of Sun bloggers with insightful posts is due to a "wide community as you'd expect from the openness of the JCP". When Microsoft folks weren't blogging and directly interacting with our developer community people railed because they felt the company was aloof and distant from its developers. Now we try to participate more and it is a sign that “it's a closed-source dictatorship - no amount of pushing up-hill will fix that”. I guess you can't win them all. :)  


Wednesday, March 10, 2004 7:56:14 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The lack of leadership from Sun bloggers is just reflective of their lack of product development, right?
Curt Hagenlocher
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 8:16:20 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
You're welcome (nay, expected) to disagree with my opinions, Dare, but it's not "point scoring" I'm into here and the fact I work for Sun is as relevant as the fact you work for Microsoft - trace back and you'll see I've been part of the conversation before this :-)

There's a much longer comment on my blog,
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 10:07:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I can't speak for Sam, but when I think of thought leadership, it think of people identifying problems with current practice, and proposing/developing solutions for them. I think of Design Patterns, Refactoring, AOP, dynamic languages.

But that's one level of thought leadership -- at a bigger/broader level. There's also leadership/innovation at lower levels, things like Ant, SGen, things like the XMLReader APIs.

While learning how to use what's already there and getting tutorials, etc is important, it's not really what I think of when I think thought leadership.

I do find it interesting that we have different perspectives on who the thought leaders are in the .NET community are. That may be because I'm more of an interested observer of the .NET community than an active participant.
Thursday, March 11, 2004 12:37:43 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Ted wrote
>when I think of thought leadership, it think of people identifying problems with current practice, and proposing/developing solutions for them

Considering that Microsoft folks are responsible for current practice in .NET and it is their jobs to figure out how to improve it I don't see the folks who are doing the equvalent of blogging about feature requests, bug workarounds and hallway debates (i.e. 95% of the Microsoft bloggers) as showing thought leadership. They are just doing their jobs, in public.

Thought leadership is changing the way the industry thinks and acts, not blogging about the next new whizzbang feature that fixes a limitation of the last whizzbang feature you shoved in the previous version of your product.
Thursday, March 11, 2004 3:53:11 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The point that many Microsoft bloggers are blogging, especially on MSDN is to make contact with the customer community. Most bloggers don't know what to blog about so they resort to blogging about some feature of their product, basically the fallout of their daily grind. Others think they can share some insight into how to use a particular feature, API or what not, thinking that the point of a blog is educate others on what they know.

If there were more concept blogs about new ideas (instead of tech articles and/or rants/raves) would the community hold these bloggers and Microsoft accountable to actually make them real? I suspect many MS bloggers fear talking about future and ideas, because they don't want everyone else to confuse personal points of view with actual product direction.

Me? If I told you all the great ideas I had on a daily basis, I'd probably be leaking confidential information. So far I've resorted to telling people about the past. The past is safe material so far. Even objectspaces, for me that's in the past!

Personally, SOA, i haven't even got my head around that; suck, whack, spit or whatever. I'm still trying to figure out RPC. :-)

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