Brian's Waste of Time

Sun, 08 Feb 2004

Solipsism, Research, and Blogs

Joseph Ottinger posted an excellent article in response to another article examining hype, projects, and personalities. He points out that no matter how much bloggers and commentators rail on abaout how bad EJB's are, they will still be used more than any alternate technology around right now (for the same reason the Dean campaign bombed when the primaries started).

It is a good reality check. There are a number of almost solipsistic communities in development which lead to problems like this. The scary part is that they are not self contained like a true solipsism, but overlap without awareness of the overlap. These communities are self-reinforcing in that members will read articles, swap eamils on mailing lists, and associate with others in the community they are active in -- thereby seeing more of the same. It is the classic insulated community.

This explains, for instance, a lot of views about certain projects and technologies, such as Jakarta or EJB's. WebWork (I would say OpenSymphony except that WebWork is the only one people talk about -- SiteMesh is the coolest thing over there! ;-) afficianodos tend to belittle Apache projects, but these are projects adding more value to more real applications than probably any other Java technology around, except the standard library. Within Apache there are cutting edge type projects (Cocoon FlowScript, Tapestry, various bits of Avalon, most of Jakarta Commons-Incubator), yesterday's cutting edge entering mainstream now (Axis, OJB, Lucene), and mainstream (Struts, Ant, Tomcat). For some people Axis is too risky (because web services are all hype), for some people Axis is too tied to yesterday's ideas (Ivory), for a whole lot of people it provides a means to solve a set of problems they didn't know there was an easy way to solve, and are still coming to terms with (the 80% of developers doing 98% of the development).

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