Alex Payne is known by thousands as al3x. He’s a developer at Twitter. I’ve been a fan since he wrote what I consider to be the single greatest tweet ever by anyone. He just published Mending The Bitter Absence of Reasoned Technical Discussion, which is good, but wrong in an essential way. Ted is Theodore Sturgeon.
Alex had previously, and correctly, lamented the quality of tech journalism. In this outing he deplores the general quality of online discourse. He speaks from experience, having gone on the record about Ruby performance issues and Twitter’s use of Scala as an alternative; this drew the outspoken ire of the Ruby religiosos. For a polite example see Obie Fernandez’s My Reasoned Response about Scala at Twitter. I’m not only a Ruby fan but a Scala skeptic, and I found Alex’s commentary illuminating and useful.
On the other hand, Alex is largely wrong about the quality of online discourse. We are in the golden age (in my profession at least) of high-quality well-informed analysis and insight on the things that really matter.
Well, yeah, there’s a lot of flamage and stupidity too, and Alex is hardly alone in his observation of behavior that can be called at best “tribal”. Well, so what? At this point I appeal to Sturgeon’s Law, usually stated as “95% of everything is crap”.
The key thing is, you have to do some mental filtering and look at the other 5%. The Internet helps via PageRank and friends, but independent thinking is required too: make your own finding as to who’s worth listening to. It seems a low price to pay for the privilege of being the best-informed generation in history.