Make Your Line Longer

Ray Camden wrote a blog post earlier today about my demeanor towards ColdFusion advocacy. I am very appreciative of his kind words, and thought it would be a good time to share a little bit of the philosophy behind my attitude.

A phrase that has stuck with me through the years is “Make your line longer.”

It’s my paraphrase of a story from Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams.

Basically the story goes :

I will remember one of my initial sessions at his dojo in Los Angeles where I was practising Kumite (sparring) with a more skilful opponent. To make up for my lack of knowledge and experience, I tried deceptive, tricky moves that were readily countered. I was outclassed, and Parker watched me get roundly trounced. When the match was over I was dejected. Parker invited me into his small office; a small sparsely furnished room with only a scarred desk and battered chairs. “Why are you so upset? ” he asked. “Because I couldn’t score.” Parker got up from behind the desk and with a piece of chalk drew a line on the floor about five feet long. “How can you make this line shorter?” he asked. “I studied the line and gave him several answers, including cutting the line in many pieces. He shook his head and drew a second line, longer than the first. “Now how does the first line look? “Shorter,” I said. Parker nodded. “It is always better to improve and strengthen your own line or knowledge than to try and cut your opponent’s line.”

From (emphasis added)

The idea here is that people waste time trying to undercut their opponent instead of improving themselves. Undercutting an opponent benefits you once. Making yourself better is an investment that benefits you for the rest of your life.

What does this have to do with ColdFusion? The reason I don’t reciprocate to haters or bash competition, is because these are attempts to cut at their lines. I’d rather lengthen my own line. Show how ColdFusion is better. Make it do cooler stuff. Honestly accept and answer criticism and make ColdFusion and its ecosystem better.

And for those that don’t believe it can work, I will tell you it can. I’ve gotten into several conversations on twitter with people. One of my favorites I remember the best was with a Ruby on Rails guy who was bashing the tag based nature of CFML. Instead of fighting the tag/script war I talked about CFScript, and pointed him to my Google Translate API CFC on github. He admitted me might have been wrong, and was impressed by the fact that ColdFusion had unit testing. I didn’t convert him, but the next time he encounters ColdFusion he’ll take it a little more seriously.

The fact is that some people are haters, and will never accept somebody else’s argument. They’re d-bags. And with so many of us coming to age in a post-Internet world, they’re just getting worse. Don’t waste your time.

But there are many more venters in the world. They come to something they don’t understand and get frustrated, and when they do they vent. When they vent about ColdFusion, see it as an opportunity to help un-frustrate the frustrated, not a chance to avenge the hate. Do it by making your line longer, and not trying to cut the other guy down.

That’s what I’ve tried to do.

16 thoughts on “Make Your Line Longer

  1. Great perspective Terry, and surprisingly open and up-front. I remember a time when I would’ve thought you weren’t so philosophically…balanced might be the wrong word…but it’s definitely refreshing to read. Great job!


  2. @Guamaniac Thanks, Joe. The past 3 or 4 years have mellowed me out. Fighting gets tiring, and quite honestly isn’t effective.

    Writing the book was instructive. I had the opportunity to examine my experience and discern that I had more success focusing on positives of my solutions then attacking people. Decision makers don’t listen to zealots. Only other zealots do, and only if they agree with you already.


  3. Well said.

    Innovation usually goes hand and hand with something pushing you.

    Reminds me of watching the PGA, the TV and score board give the illusion the players are battling it out but in reality each player can only control and manage their own execution with little interference.


  4. I’ve actually had your approach work many times recently on Twitter. Usually it ends with ‘Wow, I’ll have to give ColdFusion another look.’ You are very correct in needing to understand when someone is actually going to take part in debate versus just throwing stones.


  5. Thanks, Terry–great post! It is amazing the things time teaches us, isn’t it? 🙂 I remember well the great email zingers I would send out in aggravation in my youth: I might have won some battles with those, but I certainly didn’t win any friends!


  6. Well said, Terry. Ray’s post provides an excellent set of useful bullet points, especially for those of us who are long-time fans of CF, but utilizing those bullet points with your positive / forward approach makes all the sense in the world. Discerning those conversations that are worth having in the first place (hater vs ignorant-but-willing-to-learn) is a real key to not losing perspective, patience, and control (and therefore wasting energy).


  7. I guess the fact that this is the only ColdFusion related post on the last 240 posts in the Adobe Evanelists super blog is another symptom of ColdFusion’s neglect in recent times.

    Not even Ben is posting about ColdFusion any more.

    Who cares about ColdFusion at Adobe? Anyone? Or is it only us developers and site owners who care about it?


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