Passion of the Notes

I was at Lotusphere in Orlando recently, and had great time. The conference had an energy and enthusiasm that's uncommon in the business world. I think it'ss because IBM finally is moving in a direction that actually makes sense, and has the right people calling the shots.

One thing I was really struck by was how passionate so many people are about Lotus Notes. The Notes community is a community that I was once a very active member of and I really miss. Is it any coincidence that the most advanced "social software" platform also has the most tightly knit, passionate technology community?

The people at Lotusphere almost uniformly love Notes, and coming to the conference is Nerdvana, they are surrounded by people that share the same passion. These are my kind of people, smart and creative and they flat out love Lotus Notes. They use it every day to solve real world problems. They love that it does stuff the almighty Microsoft still can't come close to matching. They love that it works like their brain works, it just clicks. Some people aren't sure why they love it so much, they just know it makes them heroes at work. Notes rocks.

But I was also struck by how many people were otherwise alone in their passion. Getting excited about this thing, a software tool, is something they feel like they aren't allowed to do. Colleagues, friends, relatives making them feel like their interests are silly. Stories of coworkers being derisive or outright hostile, the typical Notes sucks stories, nitpicking every flaw while conceding none of its strengths.

This is not unique to Notes, of even software, people everywhere with intense interests are brought down by others. These people who like to squash enthusiasm I like to call "cynical assholes". These are people with no real passion of their own, and it annoys them to no end to see others who do.

The cynicals assholes will make you feel like being enthusiastic about your work is somehow wrong. It's stupid, or you're stupid for liking it. Fuck those people, it's just their insecurities surfacing, trying to bring you back down from your excitement. "Get back in your place, who do you think you are? You think you're better than me?" Oh yeah, fuck you.

In every industry, advances are made by the people who are oddly obsessed with something most people couldn't care less about. It's not dumb to be excited about software, it's not dumb to be enthusiastic about your job. It's not. There are people who are passionate about cars, about retailing, about accounting, about cooking. It's the greatest thing to be passionate about something, especially when it's your job.

Software can empower people, free them from drudgery and let people focus the more creative elements of work and life. When you create software you are empowering others. How does that not make the world a better place? How can that not be important?

It is important and it does matter. Don't believe the cynics. It's okay to have passion. It's better than okay, it's great. Go with it.

Posted February 4, 2006 3:48 PM