“The only way to succeed in my opinion is if you cannot visualize failure.”
In the first post he describes a personal experience where failure was imminent and he pushed on despite it because he realized his back was to the wall. In the second he keeps the theme by emphasizing the special level of determination necessary for success. Many of the blog posts I find my way to via Hacker News and other outlets have similar exhortations but Winer holds more gravitas for me because of his success as a founder and longevity as one of the alpha dog programmer/internet personalities.
Both pieces were inspired by the recent news that Google was no longer pursuing Wave – the kind of capitulation that may have inspired Winer’s title: “Embracing failure is a good way to fail.” As an aside, Dare Obasanjo has some thoughtful points on why Wave couldn’t grow.
Not long after I discovered that IronRuby’s future as a Microsoft project was in flux. It seemed to me similar to Wave in the sense that I remember the fanfare when all the Iron* (IronRuby, IronPython, etc… ) projects were beginning and the excitement of people in the programming community only to perk my head up now and find that the project seems no longer to have the good graces of its company. What a contrast.
I speak as an outsider but I suspected that as time passed the level of interest in these projects began to erode: everything from key people leaving teams to diminishing excitement from people on the outside. Most of my interest was directed toward IronPython since it was the most mature dynamic language implementation in the beginning (the whole concept of the Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) came from Jim Hugunin’s early port of Python). This was both fortunate and unfortunate; I was eager to learn Ruby but since I can’t learn languages very fast I decided to maintain my focus on Python in exclusion of other DLR language implementations. All I can do is suspect but perhaps there were others like me who decided rather than trying to learn different languages simultaneously it would be better to focus on one.
Now as I think upon my encounters with the DLR, I realize that I’m a part of the “failure,” if one can call it that, of Microsoft in valuing this and other dynamic language implementations. Although I was excited early on, even spending some time creating projects and coming up with ideas that leveraged the dynamic languages on the DLR, I got bogged down by how hard it was without a lot of documentation and the difficulty of trying to convince people around me that what I was doing was worth it. (Insert the glazed eyes and “why not just use C#? It has intellisense…” conversation). In the interests of a more full disclosure, a personal tragedy from last year took a lot of wind out of my sails and I didn’t do any programming my spare time for a long stretch of time.
But of course I neither think that IronRuby is a “failure” nor do I think my lack of initiative over the last few years is the way things need to remain. Now seems an even better time to become more active in what community IronRuby has since the absence of Microsoft will create space for people like me, on the outside. I will probably return to the drawing board with a few projects and ideas in IronPython but Bruce Tate’s latest book has inspired me to think that perhaps trying to tackle multiple languages at the same time isn’t so outlandish a goal after all. The important thing I’m going to try to bring with me is the frame of mind I quoted above from Winer: being unable to imagine that IronRuby can go away or lose value as an idea or a platform.