I’ve not been posting on this WordPress blog very often this past year. That’s despite actually doing more programming-related explorations than I had in a long time. One of the key reasons is because I found more “instant gratification” (and sometimes “instant frustration”) by participating in the online question-and-answer site StackOverflow.
Like Wikipedia, StackOverflow is a collaboratively-edited body of knowledge. Also like Wikipedia, it is curated by (mostly) volunteers who’ve agreed to use the “Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic License” a.k.a. CC-Wiki. But unlike Wikipedia, S.O. is a closed-source system written using proprietary server-side Microsoft technologies. The people running it are a for-profit business, with paid advertisers and venture capital investors. Their profitability enables them to keep $100 bills in jars of their company snack room:
I don’t begrudge them their success. But while the site can be snapshotted and mirrored, it’s certainly not free of lock-in for tracking question history and other integral site features. Due to the aesthetics of the programmer-types running it, quality and improvements have moved ahead quickly…so far. I will remind everyone that seemingly trustworthy and upstanding programmers have sold out sites hosting my content in the past for something “as petty as money”. (Remember LiveJournal when Brad Fitzpatrick ran it, vs. when it was sold and covered with full-pop-up-video advertisements, feature stagnation, and possible KGB oppression by its new Russian owners?)
So I remain a little skeptical. But I did learn a lot by participating, which for me meant reading a lot then answering many more questions than I asked. I’ve been at times awed by the extremely detailed knowledge some people have…and how quickly one can get a thorough and elegant answer. At other times I’ve been amazed at what jerks some of those same incredibly knowledgeable people can be, for no apparent reason. (It’s less surprising when people whose knowledge does not impress me are jerks…that’s status quo for the Internet!)
Because I’ve recently taken on the organizer role of the Austin C/C++ Meetup, I’ve been introducing myself and sharing links to this creaky old WordPress site. So it seems good to share a few of the high-and-low points of what has been my substitute for a programming blog in the latter half of 2011. Sometimes funny, sometimes enlightening, sometimes lame—and sometimes all three! Read on…