Working hard to make one's work less important

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/09/07 15:46 -04:00, original URI:

They say the difference between wisdom and intelligence is subtle -- it is intelligent to know asbout the risks of cigarettes and lung cancer, while it is wise to not smoke. So maybe one ay of defining them is calling intelligence "theoretical smarts" and wisdom "applied smarts" or something like that?

I was thinking about this the other day, actually.

It was late last week

Before a training session.

One that I was the presenter for.

Before we started, I ran across a familiar face -- Dave Sell.

Now Dave and I go way back, all the way to when I was working on the wizard to wrap the MAPI IISAM in Access for import and link operations.

He was the guy behind several of the key IISAMs in Jet that so many people depend on -- text, HTML, Excel, MAPI. But that wasn't the part that impressed me the most about his work.

What impressed me most, the part that really made me want to aspire to something, was his work on an OLEDB IISAM.

Now forget about most of the content in What does DAO have that ADO/ADOx/JRO do not? for a moment -- the king of the Jet IISAMs was writing the IISAM that would be able level the playing field and implement something on top of OLEDB that was made for Jet, something that ADO/ADOX/JRO all together never really tried to be, and so unsurprisingly was not.

Now writing against a single IISAM using the same syntax would always be easier than writing against the individual ones. In a very real way, he was making a lot of his former work less necessary, less important, less interesting --and we are talking about functionality that a lot of line-of-business applications have been depending on for more years than SQL Server has actually even been a usable product! Maybe it would happen, maybe not (since it isn't up to the engine to decide how people will use it), but the potential was there.

As it turns out, Access did not go that way, so although the IISAm is there none of the existing UI or wizards were changed to use it -- so the existing body of work is still there. But that wasn't something he knew would happen, going in.

I always wondered if I would be able to be as willing to take a significant chunk of work that I did and actively work on a project with the potential to obsolete it.

Just because it was the right thing to do, as a project. As how a component could best work in a new world.

I'll be honest, I really don't know if I would or not -- would I subconsciously try to find some eay of preserving what was?

But being able to do this is certainly something to aspire to.

One of the reasons I am still at Microsoft -- not just some of the smarter people.

But also some of the wiser ones, too. :-)


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