How to make people perplexed or feel stupid in tech field : conversation style

I’m not sure if this topic is suitable to my tech blog. However, things like how to manage team for project and recommendation like “Don’t add more workforce to projects which are already late.” also belongs to S/W development, more specifically SE. So, conversation pattern  occurs often among programmers can be also good topic covered here.

While I was checking current status of WebKit used for Safari and Chrome, I ran into this question posted at Linked-In web site.

Why is Apple developing its own Nitro JavaScript engine for the Safari 4 Web Browser, instead of choosing a free and Open Source engine such as V8?

Apple has sometimes relied on free and open source technologies, using them as the base for its products (kernel of Mac OS X, WebKit engine for Safari, etc.).

It surprises me that Apple is investing in its own JavaScript engine (named Nitro; first seen in the recently launched Safari 4 Beta browser), when it could have very well chosen the Google-developed free and open source V8 engine instead (the engine used in Chrome).

Why do you think is Apple investing in a JavaScript engine?

(I’m sorry about the person who raised the question. I don’t mean to be bad about him verbally. It was just a good example. )

I found out that I had run into situation where people who pretended to be familiar with a topic raised some questions and other peoples in a same room or a meeting started to discuss about the question. Some had some partial knowledge about the question, while some even didn’t have any knowledge. So, the person who raised the question was thought be a more informed, and thus skilled employee there compared to other people because others didn’t answer to his questions clearly.

As a foreigner, I knew that the question he raised was wrong. But often it was too delicate to point out what was wrong . Therefore I couldn’t answer at that time. The above “quoted” question shows some aspect of those kind of conversation. And this is very important because there are people who use this kind of conversation tactic as a weapon to survive in a battle field called “workplace”.

In the example above, people will try to answer him. However, there is fundamentally wrong which gives false impression. What is it?

He implied that Nitro, which is a JavaScript engine in WebKit and thus thought to be made by Apple, was not open source engine and not free. People who are supposed to answer that question will focus on “Why Apple implemented their own rather than using V8.” But cleverly, that question implies that people are implicitly affirmative on the *fact* that Apple’s own is not free and not open source” when they didn’t mention that specifically.

As you already guessed, the Nitro is open source and free. If you download the WebKit source codes from webkit.org, the Nitro is already included there. Nitro is just renamed SquirrelFish Extreme for marketing purpose. SquirrelFish Extreme is descendant of SquirrelFish. He didn’t know the chronological or historical order about what JavaScript engine was there first and why people brought different JavaScript engine.

Because I am not a programmer at Google who is responsible for Chrome’s JavaScript engine, I don’t know and even can’t guess why they used their own engine. However, I think they had their own good reason to implement their own V8. I had a chance to read their paper quickly before. I think I posted the paper to this blog also. After reading a post about SquirrelFish at Webkit.org, I got a feeling that both were very similar. They seemed to have incorporated slightly different technique in their details, though. This can be wrong. I just quickly scanned those documents. Anyway, truth is that Google, with some reason, took the WebKit as their HTML/CSS/whatever rendering engine but didn’t use JavaScript engine which was already there.

Whatever it is, the people who raised the question will be, in the situation I was in, upset if someone said, “You are wrong.” (I’m not saying that the person who asked that question in Linked-in will do so. I just overlapped to the situation I was in before. ) Why will he be upset? Because he was not patient enough to look up and check how those two engines were introduced and different, not technically but marketing or business wise, he would not know why his question is not right. He will be a fast-thinker. Usually people who think fast have bad tempered, or even though he doesn’t he would feel that things don’t feel comfortable. Before being upset, he should ask, “Why are you saying that my question is wrong?” first.

I don’t think I described weird conversation I have been in properly, but I hope you, readers, would get the idea.

I have also things I would like to share about interview and how different depth of education is here in US and my home country, how people apply his general knowledge to different situation without considering that things are different under different situation. I noticed some books which describe how the author survived or overcame situations he/she faced while living in a foreign countries. They became best-sellers. It is not because of saying negatively about other countries. It is because the books show how differently people think in different social atmosphere or situation. We can understand one another by reading those kind of books and think about the issues they brought. Probably if I have a chance to do conversation with someone who are good at writing, they and I could bring an interesting book to my home society.

( I will read this post again sometime  later. By doing so, I will be able to fix flaw in the flow better. Getting rid of my image about this post first make me to read what I write better. How do you call it? pre-image? Preconception? )

2 responses to this post.

  1. Very interesting. This tactic is used in politics often, but I didn’t really think about its use in software development, even though I’ve definitely seen it.

    Reply

    • Posted by jongampark on December 2, 2010 at 10:09 AM

      Well, there are many people who have different mind set.
      Some do intentionally, while others do because they don’t know what they are talking about. :)

      Reply

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