Thursday, November 16, 2006

stuff I left out of the Fort Lewis presentation

Even before I ever heard of Edward Tufte, I had always disliked scripted presentations. My approach to speaking in public is very much like my approach to performing music used to be, back when I made my living that way: know your material thoroughly, and be prepared to interact with your audience as much as possible. It's a strangely rare approach among those who speak about software, but one or two people get it.

Martin Fowler points out one danger of this kind of presentation, being quoted, but what I find is that there are always one or two points that I really, really planned to make, but the conversation with the audience didn't go that way.

Luckily, here in the 21st century, we have blogs, so we can go back and talk about the bits we missed the first time around.

I discussed the very basic aspects of copyright and license and how they relate to open-source and proprietary software. I left out a discussion of plagiarism, which is critically important in an academic setting, and ought to be critically important everywhere else.

Just because software is free and unencumbered, does not give users of that software license to claim it as their own work. Whenever you use software created by other people, please please please make a concerted effort to provide the correct citations for that work, even if the license does not require it. You have far more to gain by honest reference to others' work than you do by plagiarism.

The other bit that I never mentioned (sorry Jonathan) was the ideas in Fred Brooks No Silver Bullet. We talked about all sorts of great stuff, open source, agile development, non-hierarchical management strategies, scripting languages. The point that I should have made explicitly but did not, is that all this stuff is cool, but a) it's not magic and b) in another ten years, it will all be quaint if not hilarious.

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