Furious minorities (Message from the CTO, newsletter 51)

28 July 2011

It’s again a text-only message this issue, but I’m hopeful that the following will include a video as well.

Furious minorities

There was a recent article published by the BBC on their news site ("Why do some Americanisms irritate people?") that provoked one of the most beautiful fact-based putdowns I've seen in a while, where it was revealed that 4 out of 5 words complained about in the original article as being Americanisms were in fact solidly of British origin.

The wider take-away is not that some words are "impure" and some are "pure" and we should stick to the latter – good luck with that – but that the Internet is like an amplifier permanently stuck on 11.

There is a furious minority on almost every topic, where the few who are really upset about the status quo or about progress in that field organize and trumpet their peeves to the world. My particular hobby is reading about Grammar N‌a‌zis (or, in this case, Pure Word N‌a‌zis) – mostly in complete bewilderment that anyone could get so worked up about split infinitives or prepositions at the ends of sentences – but there are other continual battles to be enjoyed too.

The problem is that, with the Internet amp stuck on 11, the furious minorities have a visibility beyond their importance. Those who are less passionate about a topic (the majority, in other words) tend not to post, thereby increasing the perceived influence of the furious minority. All we hear is the screeching of the amp on 11, missing the single person behind the curtain.

So, all I ask is, before you launch into an albeit therapeutic rant online about some topic, are you that person behind the curtain ready to bellow into a microphone? Are you in a furious minority?

Notice something though: I’m not saying furious minorities are automatically wrong on every count, all I’m saying is that they should be aware that they might, just might, be in the minority.

Simple example from my own recent experience: I’ve just purchased a Dell XPS 15z and someone pointed me to a long thread on the Dell forums about how the trackpad was irretrievably broken. I read it, including the final post that finished: “I told [the tech support person] that I'd bet my money that every single XPS 15z actually has this issue”. Now, admittedly, this was on page 3 of the thread, all negative, so the hyperbole was I suppose justified, but it was a classic furious minority: Dell has sold thousands of these machines, the thread had some dozen people, and, guess what, mine didn’t suffer from the reported problem. I was able to help resolve it for some.

Free DevExpress Products - Get Your Copy Today

The following free DevExpress product offers remain available. Should you have any questions about the free offers below, please submit a ticket via the DevExpress Support Center at your convenience. We'll be happy to follow-up.
No Comments

Please login or register to post comments.