Apparently there’s nothing new..

At a conference I attended a few weeks back someone asked a simple question. In actual fact it wasn’t a question, it was a statement. And an angry one at that.


“What you’re talking about isn’t new. There’s nothing new at this event. Where’s the new content?”


He then proceeded to walk out in disgust. I must add that it wasn’t me talking…or making the statement.


At first I agreed with him. There wasn’t anything new. There wasn’t anything groundbreaking. But then I sat down and really studied what was said at the event. The talks were indeed a simple rehash of “common sense” things or ideas we’ve all heard somewhere before. It was indeed old stuff. But then 99% of the stuff about testing and methodology is not new either. It’s been done before, maybe not in the testing arena, maybe not in the computing arena, but most likely done or said in some context before.


But looking at it like that is missing the point. It’s too simplistic a view.


Most of the content I see actually is “new”. It has to be unless someones just copied it word for word (some do by the way). The idea might not be new but it’s bundled together in a new form. Therefore it’s new. It’s recompiled in to different contexts. It’s repackaged, merged, renamed, tweaked, built upon, defined more clearly, analysed further and given cool and funky labels. So it is new. It’s just a new version of something that’s gone before.


Like Die Hard 2, 3,12000 etc. They’re all the same thing. Different location, different baddie, different time and place – same concept. New film.


“New” theories may be made more palatable, more relevant, more concise, easier to understand or more intuitive to apply in real life. It may well be old but if repackaged well it can still be new. It can appeal to the new crowd. It can appeal to the people paying attention at that moment in time. In that context.


Every once in a while someone does genuinely come up with something new, but to attend a conference and expect groundbreaking, never heard before content is optimistic to say the least.


But I’ve come to appreciate that very few conferences have “new” stuff. It doesn’t mean they are not valuable. I still learn things from conferences. I still go off afterwards and look things up, do some research or make some notes. New understandings or re-branding of old ideas is important at furthering our craft of testing. For spreading the word. Reaffirming ways we do things. Building on ideas.


We can learn from the past. We have to. And no doubt we will go around in circles but that’s life I’m afraid. Like the time when flared trousers came back in fashion. Or 80’s retro games came back. It’s a new audience (may be different, may be older, may be the same), with different outlooks on life all at a different time and place. Doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Doesn’t mean it’s not new to some person or society or the testing community or me. Doesn’t mean it’s not acceptable. Doesn’t mean we should walk out of conferences. Doesn’t mean we still cannot learn something.


I’m just waiting for shell suits to come back in fashion, I’ve got a cracking green and black one in the wardrobe. 🙂

Talent imitates, Genius steals

Talent imitates, Genius steals


A very pertinent phrase for what’s been happening in the testing world recently. There’s been some high profile stealing or imitating of ideas and concepts but also some low key ones too. It seems we are in an increasingly competitive (and open media) world and those with the really great ideas are in grave danger of having them stolen. After all, there are too many testers and not enough good ideas.


But it really grates on me when the “theft” of ideas is so blatant, when it’s a straight copy, when little is done to even mask the fact it’s been nicked. Taking an idea and building on it, merging it, reforming it – fair enough I guess. Taking an idea and just running with it as your own – poor show.


Like the training provider that blatantly nicked Lisa Crispin’s and Janet Gregory’s Agile Testing book chapters for it’s course content, or the testing forum that nicked SQA heading ideas. But closer to my world is the “potential” borrowing of the Software Testing Clubs magazine content ideas. I say “potential” because it could just be coincidence.


Now, creating a magazine is not a fresh idea, there are loads of mags out there and there’s no harm in creating more of them. It’s a free world. It’s not a patented idea. But to steal the ideas, concepts and content of a fresh and funky new magazine and pass it off as your own idea would be just plain wrong. Right?


Now I do wish the peeps who appeared to have copied The Software Testing Clubs ideas all the best with their magazine.


I genuinely do. Because it’s a lot of hard work and it requires a lot of good content, good design, creative ideas and bags of enthusiasm. It also takes a lot of integrity to make sure the contents good and in keeping with the style. It could just be a coincident that their magazine forum post reads awfully similar to the STC magazine forum post. It could also be a coincidence that it also reads like one of my articles, it’s got my style and language tone. Coincidence indeed.


And maybe it’s a bizarre coincidence that the content ideas are also identical to the STC ones. And maybe the publishing date being the same is truly a coincidence too. Small world and all that. It is funny how the testing world works. Great ideas appear to come along at the same time. Well, actually in some cases about 15 days after others 🙂 …. but let’s not quibble. Let’s not make any accusations. Good ideas are good ideas. And good luck to all who ride with them.


It will be an interesting January for the testing community. Two magazines with the same intended content. Oh how we spoil you guys. Oh how you have choice. And what a lot of great choice you have.


I’m really looking forward to the release of the STC magazine (January 2010). I’m well chuffed with the content; and the enthusiasm and hard work that’s gone in to it will show through in the end. The design is awesome, the contributors are perfect and the funny stuff is funny. Very funny. And a big thanks to all those who have contributed or been involved in some way shape or form. Even those who submitted blatant copies of other peoples work (it opened my eyes to how stupid and underhand some people can be…even to the person who tried with two different (copied) articles….I salute your persistence.) And if the other magazine is packed full of similar cool content then I’ll be over the moon. Yet more great places to go for testing information and a bit of down time.


There is plenty of room for both magazines, I’m just awfully glad we didn’t advertise on the forum some of the really really really cool features in the mag. phew.
2010 will be an interesting year and only time will tell who is either Talented or a Genius.




P.S – thanks to Faris Yakob for the title idea.

100g of ability, pinch of willing, bags of passion, 50g of interest, a slice of learning. Pan Fry. Testing……Done.

The new series of the Gordon Ramsay’s F Word is back on TV here in the UK. This series Ramsey et al are in search of Britain’s best restaurant by cultural cuisine type (i.e. Chinese, Thai, French etc).


I wouldn’t normally be referring to Gordon Ramsay or British TV except that something struck me about the restaurants, in fact more precisely, the chefs that make it in to the final cook-off on the F Word. The chefs all seems to share something in common……Passion.


Their passion is for cooking. But not just for doing the action of cooking but also helping other people to learn more about cooking as well as building their own knowledge during that process. Each of the chefs run very successful restaurants, with awesome food but more importantly from my view is that they all also run weekend or out of hours cooking courses.


In the testing world over the past few weeks there have been lots of discussions about training. Matt Heusser posted some stuff on his blog the other week about training (or lack of)  Selena Delesie posted about coaching testing skills and twitter has been awash with talk of certifications and training.


So what’s my point? Well, my point is that for those of us who are passionate about what we do it is inevitable that many of us will want to share and contribute to community projects and training. It’s not every ones calling and some people don’t thrive in social environments. But for those that do, training and coaching local testers is a really great way to share your passion for testing. It’s also a fantastic way of building on your own knowledge.


So maybe the time has come for us to get involved in promoting testing, cultivating testing, getting local community testing groups flourishing but most important of all; offering a place for people to learn more about testing.


Too many people sit back and complain about lack of training for testers. Instead, why not create yourself a community group, join a local testing group, build your network and try to get some local learning going.


But most of all. Enjoy it.


(picture courtest of Fernando on flickr:


P.S – For those who don’t know about Gordon Ramsay, try watching an episode of F Word. Done.