Oblique Speak in the Technical Realm

September 18, 2006

It amazes me how people fail to communicate when speaking about technical matters. I’m sure you have heard this refrain: “My computer doesn’t work” or perhaps “Program XYZ blows up”. Ok, in the general sense there is some information being conveyed here. Often times the speaker is not merely providing a fact but asking for help in a very oblique manner.

Before you think I’m picking on the poor newcomer, I’m not. Its rather remarkable that people who are proficient in a technical dialect (i.e. programming language or systems) can be completely inadequate in communicating technical details. Often you have to pry it out of them – “What was the error message?” or “What programming language?” or even “What project?”.

As a developer I rely on error messages, stack traces, log files and whatever else I can get my hands on to troubleshoot a problem. Sure I fail to be specific at times – nobody is perfect – but to solve a technical problem you need details!

Perhaps I’m just getting old and cranky (Ok, older and crankier) or maybe its just Monday…