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Tech Journalism Sucks

  • Moscow, Russia
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This July, just four months ago, I submitted an article to InfoQ, a popular online tech magazine. In the article I suggested that in order to improve our projects we must not make programmers worry about the quality of code they write, but instead let them focus mostly on the speed of delivery. The quality, I argued in the article, must be the concern of the delivery pipeline. You have most probably already read the blog posts where I mention this idea, especially this one: Don’t Aim for Quality, Aim for Speed.

Wag the Dog (1997) by Barry Levinson
Wag the Dog (1997) by Barry Levinson

I received a response from the InfoQ editor in an email, and I quote: “The article provides no new insights for our audience, and actually some recommendations that go against well-known good practices in DevOps.” I tweeted about this and Charles Humble, their editor-in-chief, emailed me back. He said that he still didn’t want to publish my piece, because “both people who reviewed it are experienced DevOps practitioners, and felt strongly that, although the ideas presented were interesting, it wasn’t something that would generalize well or work well for more mature teams.”

Two people decided that my point of view was wrong and that’s why the entire audience must not hear it! They know better what “works well for more mature teams.” Pay attention: they didn’t say anything about the quality of my article, about the way I structured my arguments, about the consistency of the logic in it. They totally got what I wanted to say, but they disagreed. My opinion didn’t go along with theirs. And so—no platform for the guy.

You know what happened next? I sent my piece, without any changes, to Gerard Holzmann, one of the editors of IEEE Software. You know what he said? I quote: “I like your analogy of a wall, but when I reflect on it I believe it is really no more than the standard check-in and commit process that most organizations use. So I’m sorry that we can’t use it.” See? The InfoQ guys thought that it’s a practice that nobody would use, while the IEEE Software editor thinks that it’s something everybody is already using.

Ironic, huh?

Finally, I submitted that very same article to the blog section of the Communications of the ACM and it was published there, maybe thanks to the objectivity of Lawrence Fisher, their editor. I also submitted it to a number of software conferences, where it was also accepted, including Joker 2018 in St. Petersburg, Russia (it was the 3rd most liked speech, according to the votes of 400+ attendees).

Here comes my point.

Tech journalism sucks.

If you want to be published, say what everybody else is saying. Or else say something very new. I don’t really know. What will I do from now on? I will keep sending my articles to many places. I’ve even created a list of journalists (over 200 magazines) and I spam send them my articles via Mailanes.

It seems they don’t deserve a better attitude.


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