Thursday, November 10, 2011

Introspection on a Blog (A Manifesto)

An incident occurred last week that made me think deeply about the question: Why do I blog?  Do I blog to disseminate information? (Yes.) Do I blog to show off how witty/adorable/precious/smart I am? (OK, maybe a little.) Do I blog to flex my first amendment rights as an American citizen to express myself freely? (I do now.)

Mostly, I blog because civil design software is complex shit. My now defunct Eagle Point software blog was very similar to this one - trouble shooting, how to's and a compendium of new tools I've learned. When you are asking a computer to do what Civil 3D, In-Roads, GeoPak, Carlson, Eagle Point, CivilCAD, Torus etc do, you're orders of magnitude more complex than typing a Word doc. As an end-user and a support person I feel compelled to keep a record of the successes or problems I've had. I keep these things on record first and foremost for me, and if someone else finds it useful then...awesome. The point is not to stroke anyone's ego or make any money from blogging (I haven't.) The point is to give a realistic picture of the good, the bad and the ugly of the software who's existence pays my mortgage.

If I did not believe in this product, I would not be doing what I do. I would not demo, teach and support hundreds of users on a software that I didn't think could truly change the way engineers work in a positive way.

Last week I was asked to modify a blog post that was perceived to be too negative. My emotions ran the gamut. Initially, I was indignant, then remorseful, sad, then angry.  My mouse hovered over the "Delete Blog" button. While my assessment was less than sunshine and rainbows, I felt (and still feel) that it is a realistic snapshot of what is going on with the software side of things of a large project I am involved with. Realistic, but not libelous.  Frank and controversial but not immoral or illegal. I was not violating any NDA or giving up design secrets of any of my customers.

Is Civil 3D the best possible tool on the market for designing large roadway projects? Absolutely, YES.
Is it insane how much computation goes on and how quickly when generating design data? Amazing.
Does Civil 3D do things that drive me (and my end-users) up the wall sometimes? Um. Yeah.

The censorship topic still hits a raw nerve for me. I am still sad and angry.  I'm sad that my honesty was perceived as negativity.  I apologize if anyone thought I was "calling their baby ugly." Nothing I wrote was intended to be as such. I'm sad that I need to be more careful with future posts.

I'm angry at how I heard about the "controversy". To this day, I have not been spoken to directly by any of the people who requested the take-down. I had to hear about it through my employer - who I attempt to separate from this often foul-language blog. The only reason I relented and took down the information is that I really care about the company that I work for. I did not want to put my managers in a position of defending a stupid blog post on my behalf.

This ain't my first rodeo, boys.  If you have a problem with anything I've written, I encourage you to call me on the carpet directly. Argue my points. Prove me wrong. Read me the riot act, but don't ever let me find out about it through the grapevine again. [Sidenote - how many metaphors have I used in this paragraph?] Leave a comment. Call me. Email me. Tweet me.  I'm damn easy to find.

The temptation to delete this blog has passed.  More than ever, I feel like I have something to say, and will continue to write, piss people off and contribute to the body of knowledge on design software.  My understanding of how my users work and their "pain points" is extremely deep. Through teaching, I know exactly where people have hangups learning the software and what parts are easy.  Sorry its not all roses and puppies - but I know what I'm talking about. If I'm lucky, someone might even listen.

I'm only here to help.

-Peace out

ps Seriously - talk to me.  I love feedback for better or for worse.  Don't you?


forest.peterson said...

What did you write that kicked the hornets' nest? A response like what you got from 'them' always means you are spot-on and correct - stand your ground and keep the post. Also, your managers' sole purposes in life are to 1) ensure you have what you need to do your job before you know you need it and 2) back you up in situations like this.

Nathan said...

Keep up the good work Lou! You're one of the fresher voices out there that doesn't read from the same songbook as everyone else.

I guess being inside and outside the tent, sometimes you're going to get wet no matter what.

Always look forward to your posts.

Lou said...

Thanks for the encouragement. Its nice to know I'm not writing in a vacuum.

Brian Benton said...

Great post. Now I want to read the one you took dowm! It sounds lile it must have been spot on. keep up the great work!

John said...

But puppies and roses provides light at the end of the tunnel.

civil3djedi said...


Anonymous said...

Was the "controversial" blog ever online as I don't recall seeing anything too controversial (and I'm subscribing via RSS)

Whilst Civil 3D is a great program when it decides to play ball we need the "warts and all" information as the times when it goes wrong is when we need to know how to fix things.

Keep on keeping on and as the almost Latin phrase has it - illegitimi non carborundum

Lou said...

The "controversial" post was up for about 12 hours before the black helicopters came.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see it. Sorry I missed what caused this raucous. Then I would know what brings the black helicopters in... Don't want to bring the black helicopters in...

R. Rien said...

Nice to read you have not changed a bit.

Keep it up.