Re: Almost Content Free
Posted: Jul 24, 2003 7:04 PM
> But I'm also keen to hear what kind of articles you'd
> like to read, such as your call for more in-depth,
> practical tech articles. So feel free to post your article
> wish lists
> I like interview that actually push the interviewee to
> explain themselves, and not just give them a soap-box.
> Bruce said somethings that would be interesting if they
> were true (e.g. a 10x productivity gain), but he didn't
> provide anything substantial to justify them, and my
> experience tells me that he's either referring to very
> specific situations, or he's well and truly overstating
> If you (Bill) had pushed Bruce to actually justify his
> comments then this could have been a really great
> interview, but as it was there was lots of advocacy and no
> one forcing him to explain himself.
> A lot of the time your inverview style works really well,
> I think you got a lot of good stuff from James Gosling,
> and Andy/Dave. But for Bruce (and to a lesser extent
> Rusty) I think you need to encourage him to back up his
> claims a bit, or the intverview ends up without much meat
> to it.
That's very good feedback, thanks. I'll keep that in mind in future interviews. For most interviews I've read a book or at least previous interviews of that person, and I usually try to do a combination of:
1. Get them to repeat things I liked that they said or wrote, things I think are useful for programmers to hear, so I can publish it on Artima.com.
2. Challenge them to justify or clarify things they've said or written that I find concerning or just plain dubious.
When I do the second one, I've often found that I misunderstood what they wrote, or that it didn't come across to me at least as they intended. I was concerned, for example, about a lot of the things the Pragmatic Programmers said in their book, but when I challenged them on those things, their answers made sense. And I think that approach has made for good interviews.
In the particular case of Bruce's claim to a 5 to 10 times productivity boost, my take is that he was talking about his own experience, not saying that by simply moving from Java to Python anyone would get that big a boost. In other words, I understood he was giving anecdotal evidence only, not purported scientific evidence that was backed up by research results. Bruce, any chance we could get you to elaborate on where your 5 to 10 times productivity numbers come from in this forum?
What I'm find interesting is that both of the interviews you pointed to, Bruce's and Rusty's, are the first interviews I've done by taking the slides from a talk and using that as the basis for the interview. (I didn't hear the talks in person.) Perhaps because I can't read the actual details of their message, it is harder for me to find things to challenge them on. They were up on their own soap box, in effect, delivering their message, and I kind of wanted to capture the meat of their message in an interview series. In Rusty's case, I wanted a discussion about Java API design. In Bruce's, a discussion about what's important in programming languages. I did not want them to come across simply as promoting XOM over JDOM or Python or Java and C++, but perhaps they've turned out that way more than I wanted.
Anyway, thanks again for this feedback. This kind of constructive criticism helps.