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Colin White

I like the various blogs associated with my many hobbies and even those to do with work. I find them very useful and I was excited when the Business Intelligence Network invited me to write my very own blog. At last I now have somewhere to park all the various tidbits that I know are useful, but I am not sure what to do with. I am interested in a wide range of information technologies and so you might find my thoughts will bounce around a bit. I hope these thoughts will provoke some interesting discussions.

About the author >

Colin White is the founder of BI Research and president of DataBase Associates Inc. As an analyst, educator and writer, he is well known for his in-depth knowledge of data management, information integration, and business intelligence technologies and how they can be used for building the smart and agile business. With many years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. Colin has written numerous articles and papers on deploying new and evolving information technologies for business benefit and is a regular contributor to several leading print- and web-based industry journals. For ten years he was the conference chair of the Shared Insights Portals, Content Management, and Collaboration conference. He was also the conference director of the DB/EXPO trade show and conference.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Colin's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

I commented in a my previous blog entry that the controversy over ParAccel's TPC-H benchmark has become quite heated. This is especially true on Curt Monash's blog where at one point he made some personal comments about Kim Stanick, ParAccel's VP of Marketing. See this link for details.

This is the second blog this month that I have read where an analyst makes an attack, not only on the vendor, but also one of its employees. The other blog (and an associated article) was by Stephen Few entitled "Business is Personal - Let's Stop Pretending It Isn't." See this link for details.

The good thing about social computing is that it provides a fast way of sharing and collaborating about industry developments. However, these technologies have the same problems as e-mail and instant messaging, they enable people to react immediately to something that upsets or annoys them. With blogging, unlike email and instant messaging, everyone gets to see the results!

As analysts our job is to write balanced reviews of industry developments that provide useful information to the reader. My concern is that some analysts are behaving as though they are on cable television or writing for the tabloids. I believe we can critique a product without attacking a company, its products or its employees. Personal attacks by analysts are unprofessional, even if the company fights back against a review they take exception to. What do you think?

Posted June 25, 2009 1:52 PM
Permalink | 7 Comments |

7 Comments

Colin,

When I blog on BeyeNetwork or IntelligentEnterprise, I act as if I'm a guest in someone's home. I agree with you about etiquette. But that is the limit. I have no interest in being on the etiquette police on the Internet. I appreciate Curt's opinion, even when he's wrong or misinformed (which isn't that often, btw). I agree with you that making a personal attack was a mistake, but it's his mistake to make. Personally, I like it when the cuckoo bird pops out of someone's head. That's when I find out what they are really thinking. Unvarnished, immediate reactions without editorial oversight. That's the value of the blogs.

There is a price to pay, however, as I learned myself not too long ago. Speaking your mind may feel good, but you may get slapped for it.

Also, I don't think all analysts write balanced reviews. In fact very few do. Few and Monash may grate sometimes, but in my opinion, they provide a helluva lot more useful content than burnished analyst reports and blogs.

-NR

Neil,

Thanks for the comments. Perhaps what put me over the edge here is when the attack is aimed at a person, rather than a company or product. I agree with you about there being a price to pay. I don't always practice what I preach! I also agree with you about Few and Monash. They do have useful things to say and this is why I find it frustrating when they resort to over the top reviews to get their points across. BTW I also agree we don't need Internet police. I believe in free speech, but as analysts we should behave as professionals!

Colin,

Absolutely. Personal attacks are never a good idea or welcome. Except when talking about politicians. Especially kinky and/or philandering Republicans. Or Ahmadinejad. LOL

Colin, what about when the attack is in the other direction, by the vendor staffer on the analyst *rather than on the analyst's views*? I give examples in my blog article "When Business Gets Too Personal" at http://intelligententerprise.com/blog/archives/2009/06/when_business_g.html . I'd be surprised if you don't immediately recognize all three of my examples.

I'm sure you agree that this situation is equally deplorable.

Seth

I agree. Analysts and vendors represent the industry and should behave as professionals. I think we can disagree and critique each others work without resorting to personal attacks. In the heat of the moment we all fall into the trap of reacting angrily to situations and social computing technology helps us to immediately voice this to the world. I have been guilty of this on occasions. However, with some people the attacks are premeditated. Often this is done to get attention, gain a reputation, or even in some cases to get the vendor to offer consulting work to shut them up (vendors that react to these situations only have themselves to blame if this backfires on them).

It's so important that we maintain some level of decorum if we want to have credibility. I feel the same way about vendors' representatives, or about TV news people. I switch off when the ad hominem stuff starts.

There are other issues here, but for me it just reflects that we haven't sorted the social computing rules out. So I try to do what my mom taught me, and my pastor, and my mentors in life. The social computing sphere, IMHO, is the most perfectly realized expression of (my naive understanding of) the law of karma in the modern world.
Merv

I agree. Another way of looking at this is that "what goes around comes around" or "you have what you create."

I think IBM has a good set of guidelines for social computing. They have really encouraged their employees to take full advantage of these new technologies. The guidelines can be found here:

http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html

Thanks for the comments. Colin.

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