Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why can't I be a fanboy??

Why aren't the so-called “fanboys” taken seriously?  Why is it always assumed that a “fanboy” is a blindly faithful, shill or troll?  With all the hype and press around Ruby and Rails, wouldn't you classify these folks as “fanboys?”  No? So if you're an early adopter of anything new, you're on the bleading edge, but if the technology is more mainstream and mature but is still clearly valuable and has an excellent track record, you're a “fanboy.”  One of the comments many folks make in arguments against the “fanboy-ism” is that they don't have an open mind.  To me that is simply a “PC” way of saying “you have a closed mind because you don't agree with me.”  I'm sorry, but how do you know that?

I was in a very mixed social setting this past weekend with a lot of folks of varying disciplines.  There were the financial folks, the sales/marketing folks, there were the sofware engineers (most of which were not from CodeGear).  I find that the engineers are usually the most closed minded bunch of folks, yet continue to think they are the most open-minded!  My wife was with me and happened to overhear a conversation between two non-CodeGear engineers.  She came and whispered in my ear saying, “That group over there is really trash-talking Delphi!  Don't they know that there are some folks from CodeGear here?” 

Now I don't know these folks and never actually had a chance to engage with them so I'm going to make some wild speculations here.  I'm probably wrong, but I'm going to use this to illustrate a point.  I've talked with folks that have “trash talked” Delphi and other CodeGear products.  There have also been times where I've just let them rant and rave, and when they finally ask what I do... the look on their face is priceless!  If they happen to actually remain in the conversation and I ask them what is it they're basing this opinion on, invariably it is either that they heard something about it, or it is based on a mental comparison of what their current tool of choice is doing for them and Delphi 1-3.  The former is just inexcusable, and the latter is like comparing and old Ferrari 308 GTB against the new Saleen S7.  Both are fine examples of automotive engineering for their respective eras, but the 308 just isn't quite up to modern day technical standards.  The comparison just isn't valid.

So, I guess the point I'm making here is that I think it is great to be a fanboy.  Passionate, dedicated, excited; these are qualities people view as positive attributes.  But isn't that what a fanboy is?  Maybe what causes folks to bristle at the notion of a fanboy is that they're not as passionate, dedicated, and excited about their tool of choice?  This is something I see in spades among the Ruby on Rails crowd.  They're passionate, excited, dedicated to this emerging technology.  Why should we be threatened by this?  We should be looking at what it is about their choice of tool and library that is getting them excited.  So maybe there is something behind that excitement?  Should I be looking at that technology?

So, are you a fanboy?  C'mon, stand up and be counted!  You don't even have to be a Delphi fanboy.  What would you consider yourself as being a fanboy of?

UPDATE: “fangirls” are welcome to participate... While I was using “fanboy” in the genderless, generic sense I figured I'd clarify.