Angus: Step up, stand up – for what you believe..

Last week, a video was posted about COMMON, A User’s Group. In the middle of it, a retired IBMer refers to himself as a RiP – which he says means Retired iSeries Professional. Several people excused him, because they said he had retired when it was an iSeries. Unfortunately, he retired since IBM i was released, and he was an IBMer. Both of these mean he should be familiar with the branding. Retired or not, this is an oversight and a lack of support for the platform.

The video was posted on Facebook, and my name was tagged as being in the video. So, I politely asked “What’s an iSeries?”. The ensuing witless vitriol was far more than I expected. This particular IBM i ‘pundit’ apparently feels rather threatened by my words, and turned those three words into some kind of personal attack upon his person. I attempted to point out that his claim of “the only thing that changed in the past 23 years is the name and the color” was false, but his additional responses simply showed more of his ignorance about the platform.

Ignorance, it seems, is the problem in the community. Working with customers on this platform who still think it is an AS/400 or iSeries, and still code in the same manner as they always have, is difficult when I challenge their belief systems. I understand it makes them feel inadequate, and that my encouragement to modernize makes them feel they have done something horribly wrong, but all I am asking them to do is to educate themselves on the platform. I am working to provide a means of education for our community, and at the aforementioned COMMON conference, I will be presenting a session on exactly that topic.

In the meantime, what frustrated me more than the bullying of the responder on Facebook, was the complete and utter silence from every other reader. Most of the people I know in the community are aware that “the only thing that changed in the past 23 years is the name and the color” is beyond ignorant, utterly false, and promoting the wrong message. And, given that several people were tagged in the Facebook thread, many people would have read this statement. Not a single one responded to correct this ignorance. Not one. Certainly, it is difficult for some people to engage in any kind of emotional debate, any argument, or any controversy on public forums. But, by not correcting this falsehood, it remains out there with only one voice to negate it. The strength in numbers rule would apply here, and if four, five or ten people were to post a note to disagree with this incorrect information, how powerful would that have been?

The problem remains that we are scared of bullies, and cyberspace is one of them. And, activity that does not fit your own personal worldview can be downright scary. I have been accused of bullying with my #IBMiStepUp twitter campaign, from someone who could not stand the heat of being identified as a poor marketer. They lashed out at me, and no one stepped up to defend my position. Yet, it is quite a simple thing to do – post a response to negate the BS, FUD, crap and lies being spread about our platform. I expect we have a catch-22 – no one wants to take the first step, for fear of getting into an argument that they cannot get out of.

But… it is quite simple. If you love the platform, then it takes no time at all to defend and promote it. One sentence to stand up for what is right, 140 characters to fix some misinformation, and then stop. There is no need to take on the ignorant in an all-out battle. Simply state the case FOR the platform, and step down. Soon, the voice of the community will be heard in more places. Take that first step. Go on, step up! Stand up for what you believe. Your platform needs you.

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