The Existential Pleasures of Flogging
- Posted on May 6, 2007 12:17:PM by Earl Beede to Practicing Earl
- humor, defects, flog, Management
In my last post I spoke about how some moron is going to cause you to go Arrrgg! by doing something stupid with your product. Unfortunately, that appears to be a fundamental truth. I have been pondering why some moron does the stupid thing when Steve McConnell's inaugural post lead me to another conclusion: it is as fun as heck to flog somebody else's product.
That is just it. Whipping and beating your own product is about as enjoyable as a warm tuna sandwich with way too much mayo. You can eat it if have to but you rather not. However, flogging some other poor soul's attempt at product perfection is a way to bring them down to their existential, earth-bound reality. When I have to flog my own work, I call it testing and I hate it. When I get to flog somebody else's stuff, well, then it is play time! I don't have to check out every part of it, I don't have to calculate coverage or trace back to every requirement, I can pick and choose the spots that seem interesting; the spots that are mostly likely to cave. I can invoke moron creativity and try clicking on that button while holding down the print screen key just because I can.
I had one of you flog me recently. That person (who will remain nameless but I will call Bruce) attempted to use this site's email system to send an email after he had 1) composed a system email 2) opened up a new tab and 3) logged off the system. So, surprise-surprise, when he tried to send his email, the system said something like, "You need to be logged in, you bozo." It probably didn't say the "bozo" bit but it should have. Then -- as he writes me oh so formally -- the system had the audacity to return him to a blank email form after he logged back in. "It should have populated the system email with the original text," wrote Bruce-who-is-nameless (I guess in some other email system). I personally am not sure how, since there was no database connection to save the text but, hey, this is where the existential pleasure of flogging comes in.
When I flog, it is not about what is best for some undefined customer or world peace or the improvement of humanity. It is doing what I want to do in the way I want to do it. It is a fully self-focused, down-to-earth, gritty reality of my own best interests when I flog. I don't have to limit it just to software or products, I can flog away at any personal injustice that I deem worthy of my attention. I am sure that many governmental rules are the result of flogging. I recall that a once mighty sports stadium in Seattle, the Kingdome, had to change its railings because some drunk climbed up on them and fell off. That is flogging at its finest; morons do something stupid so we all need to change. Think of the overload of politically correct speech and you can see flogging at work.
The obnoxious point is that it would be better if the system populated the email, the Kindome didn't kill people (even if they are unbelievably stupid), and that we all respected each other. A good flog isn't wrong, it isn't even necessarily petty (though it often is). It is, however, the exception rather than the rule. It is what happens to the one rather than what happens to the many.
I believe it was the comedian George Carlin who pointed out that all people driving faster than you on the freeway are maniacs and those driving slower than you are idiots. It is the rationalization that *I* am the special one that brings the true pleasure of flogging. It reflects well my experience with the world.
Only, don't flog my products, kay?