Oct 1, 2006

Hand on a Hot Stove

If I could have snuck a peek at my personnel record from ePrize, I’m sure that everything could have been encapsulated with two simple words, “Fears Change.”

I had been at the company for years, seeing it grow from a typical “Internet Startup” to a booming ad agency. I had survived scads of firings and waves of hirings. Moreover, I had initiated countless programs, created processes, and actively participated in making the company a success. If I feared change, then I was at the wrong place. I would have been petrified by the daily growth and rapid transformation. So, where did I get the bad rep?

As far as I can glean, it all came from an exchange that occurred after I’d been at the company for about a year. There was an emerging discussion about redoing the company’s website. The site that online when I was interviewed was nearly enough to tell this company to shove off. It was a garish collection of concentric circles that looked decidedly broken in Netscape 4.x, my browser of choice in those days.

When it came time for the site’s refresh, one of the software engineers started rallying that the site should be redone in Dynamic HTML (DHTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Meanwhile, another coworker was running Flash up the flagpole to see if anyone would salute. It became my obligation to put things in perspective for everyone.
Problems with coding DHTML technologies WILL occur as long as each browser creates its own proprietary features and technology that is not supported by other browsers. A Web page may look great in one browser and horrible in another.
For our company website – the site that our potential customers were going to peruse – we should utilize the technology that we were using for all of our current sites and not rely on technology that either needed Third Party plug-ins or that were incompatible with half of the world’s web browsers. Yes, DHTML, CSS and Flash were cool, but they were impractical for our purposes at the time.

For the next few years my semi-annual reviews all said, “Unwilling to learn new technologies.” It didn’t matter that my boss didn’t even know what DHTML was or why I didn’t want to adopt it, he only saw me not jumping feet first into a new (albeit impractical) area. From then on, I was a marked man. Whenever I would bring up a point of caution I was viewed as being some stick in the mud who was throwing up roadblocks to progress (“You may not want to put your hand on the stove burner, it’s hot.”)

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