In early September, 2001, I was embroiled in a mailing list debate
about agile methods with someone I'll call X. Here's a note I
wrote on September 12, 2001:
I began writing a note in which I treated Mr. X as an
adversary. I was ready to pluck quotes from his last mail and show
devastatingly how what he claimed agile methods people said was
directly contradicted by (in the case of XP) Beck's _Extreme
With that, and with a little clever rhetoric, I was sure that the
faceless hundreds of people on this mailing list would judge me the
But then I couldn't do it. I've been thinking hard about the tragedies
in New York and Washington, and about experiences I've had this
year. I just don't care about being the victor any more. I don't care
that I'm right, or if I'm right. I can't summon up any moral fervor.
I was all set to get dramatically upset (because it really does upset
me) about Mr. X's implications that I'm a consultant intent on
filling my pockets by promoting hype. But, by doing that, I'd be
protesting his turning me into a caricature by turning him into one.
Neither one of us are caricatures, or symbols, or abstractions. We're
both just people: poor, finite beings, trying to muddle along through
life as best we can, thinking that the pathetic distance we can see is
the furthest possible horizon.
So, instead - in a note I will probably regret sending - let me appeal
to this list: we used to be friendly. We used to be about colleagues
helping each other as best they could. About people asking questions
and others answering, in a spirit of friendship, without claims of
TRVTH or absolute authority. Some of that still happens, but so much
of it has been lost. Can we get it back?
One of my tactics in life is to publicly proclaim virtues that I
then feel obliged to live up to. Lots of debates about Agility
looming ahead - this public posting will force me to treat my
debating opponents with charity.