Defended against criticism and immune to praise

Sometimes reading the comments can be illuminating to the psychology of coders.

The comments on this wonderful post on assumptions about names are a case in point. Confronted with a long list of assumptions, about a third of the commenters angrily insist that THEIR particular (wrong) assumptions don’t matter in the “important cases” (e.g. “to the bottom line”), even as commenters around them are providing use cases where it absolutely does.

It’s kind of fun to watch the Linelanders insist that There Is Only ASCII, even as the Flatlanders insist that There Is Only The Basic Multilingual Plane, even as the CJK users point out that all 21 bits of extended Unicode aren’t sufficient for character variants.

But this willful blindness applies to the tech industry as a whole, especially when it comes to issues of gender and race and bro-ism that calls itself “meritocracy”.

At dinner with a senior designer friend (another white straight dude, so we’re not feeling the pain directly) I described this particular form of smart-guy ignorance as “defended against criticism and immune to praise”. It’s more visible than usual this week, when dickish “jokes” burned TC Disrupt, PAX, and Pax Dickinson alike, and even king of the brogrammers Michael Arrington is feeling a little heat.

I wish I felt confident that the industry was learning something about not taking the self-important bros’ word on their own self-importance, but I don’t have a lot of hope right now.

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