Blog entry 1,000: a retrospective

So this is the 1,000th entry in my blog since I began on December 20, 2003. I thought I’d use this opportunity to revisit some of my favourite entries and the discussions that followed. All of these entries are tagged “1K”. The criteria are purely personal.

  • We have always been at war with Eastasia….
    I wrote this piece about the rapprochement between Sun and Microsoft in April ’04. It attracted a number of comments; more significantly it was also linked by Andy Orlowski of The Register. While this isn’t as severe as being Slashdotted, I rapidly hit the puny bandwidth limits on my old hosting service, and a couple of months later I rehosted on Steve Lau‘s grommit.com.
  • On the difficulty of keeping on topic….
    This piece was just a little rant about how hard it was to avoid over-complication and distraction when trying to understand a relatively simple problem. (I simply wanted to understand the kind of transaction rate generated by an RFID-based warehouse and shipping system.) To my surprise, it became one of the most-linked-to pieces in my blog.
  • Java, open source, standards, and conformance
    I’ve come to the conclusion that software engineers are divided into two camps: those for whom the truth is the code, and those who believe that the truth is the specification. I’m in the latter camp: I believe that it’s important for there to be multiple implementations – interoperable and substitutable – of any important technology. Monocultures are dangerous. The way to avoid them is to create good specifications and build (and test!) various implementations. That’s why I’ve spent much of my life working on standards: X/Open, IETF, NFS, WinSock, W3C, FIPA, etc.
  • How people see Sun
    Inevitably many of my blog entries have been about Sun Microsystems, and this is one of my favourites. In it I drew on my experience of talking with customers and the ideas from The Cluetrain Manifesto to identify one of Sun’s problems: how to translate conversations about technology into purchase orders. These ideas became even more important after I became involved in the StorageTek integration effort, because storage involves a quite different kind of conversation.
  • Interrelated aspects of interaction (and Interaction: Typing)
    There are some interesting, almost paradoxical ideas floating around in distributed computing. They involve things like type models, composition, static vs. dynamic binding, autonomy. In these two blog entries I started to discuss some of these ideas, but I soon came to the conclusion that a blog is not the best medium for such things. I still like this stuff, though: I guess I’ll just have to write a paper, or something.
  • Debating WS-*
    Getting referenced in The Register isn’t nearly as much of a traffic generator as “getting TB’d” – getting a mention in Tim Bray’s ongoing. In September 2004, I took a crack at the slow-motion train wreck of the bloated web services “standards” process. It’s not that I’m against standards, as I’ve already noted. The point is that the governance of the standards process is just as important as the specifications themselves, and Microsoft’s hegemony was (is) in nobody’s best interest.
  • The Anthony Flew brouhaha
    Of all the subjects I’ve blogged on, the one that has generated the most discussion is the sad case of the English philosopher, Antony Flew. The short version: eminent atheist philosopher (Antony Flew) gets taken in by a charlatan (Gerald Schroeder) peddling an “irreducible complexity” argument about DNA; eminent philosopher concludes that this may be evidence for a designer; triumphalist creationist huckster (Roy Abraham Varghese) persuades Flew to go public at a conference; creationists crow about the “conversion of the most famous atheist”; Flew talks to some real scientists, and makes a half-hearted retraction, apologizing that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
    This first piece attracted 53 comments; later entries included More on Antony Flew, Carrier on Flew, and Antony Flew: at last, the book. The discussion ran on from December 2004 until May 2005, and I was still getting email months after that.
  • To Prius or not to Prius…
    Last spring, I wanted to replace my car, and I blogged about my choice: should I get a Toyota Prius or a Subaru Legacy. Eventually I chose the Subaru. The odd thing was that even though this was a non-obvious choice – I had to consider fuel economy, the value of AWD on our hill in the winter, availability, and so forth – it attracted a ton of email either scolding or ridiculing me as a “sell-out liberal who doesn’t have the courage of his convictions”. Weird.
  • Wrong premise, misleading conclusion, and Jini, Indigo and the “Highlander Fallacy”
    Two of my favourite blog pieces were written in response to a Microsoft blogger who argued (crudely) “we learned from all of Jini’s mistakes, and Indigo is the One, True Way for future distributed computing”. I thought I did a pretty good job of refuting his arguments, and others agreed: I received lots of appreciative feedback.
  • On the guilty pleasure of reading a really bad book
    No, this wasn’t a reluctant confession of an addition to Robert Ludlum or Dan Brown. I bought a technical book while on a trip last June, and discovered to my dismay – and then delight – that while it looked superficially plausible, most of the prose was entirely meaningless! The book was a dead loss – but the resulting blog piece was enormous fun to write.
  • My thoughts on Indian traffic
    Regular readers will know that I’ve visited India twice in the last year, and it made a great impression on me. (You can find lots of my blog entries and photographs from those trips.) I was particularly impressed by the Indian approach to traffic, and I tried to distill my impressions in this short essay. Dozens of my Indian friends and colleagues have told me that I captured the gestaldt of Indian traffic to perfection….
  • RIF
    If the Antony Flew affair was the most commented-on series of blog entries, the second was clearly the group that followed my getting laid off from Sun. The announcement was followed by my thanks (including my slides from the party), the FAQ for those who couldn’t understand how this could happen, and finally clearing out. As for what comes next, just bookmark my RSS feed!

So that’s the 1,000th blog entry. For the record, it looks as if there are 1,603 comments in the system. Thank you for your contributions. (I wonder how many are undetected spam!) I’ve successfully negotiated the two big hurdles that every blogger dreads: rehosting on a new system, and changing from one technology (MovableType) to another (WordPress). I’ve enjoyed my blogging enormusly, no matter where I find myself, and I plan to continue. The Gadster suggested that I should speculate on what things might be like when I reach my 2,000th blog entry. At the present rate, that should occur around the end of 2008. Hmmmm….

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