Code or Die live to code

It's OK To Be Wrong

Happy new year! Welcome to 2016.

Welcome to the world of tomorrow

As I was coming up with a cool little blog topic to start the year, I kept stopping and scrapping this and that idea. The reason I was experiencing difficulty formulating my thoughts properly was not a lack of material. The real cause for my hangup was that I felt I needed to be original, non-trivial and most of all, I just had to be correct.

This last thing was fatal, I now realize. It prevented making any sort of rational investigation. I needed to permit myself the necessary latitude to try something new and fail. As the adage goes, Nothing ventured nothing gained. Once I got around this hangup, I could properly begin to write again.

I feel that this is a very dangerous tendency. It takes courage to make something new. It takes more courage to admit that something you made or thought was wrong and correct that mistake.

Luckily the scientific method makes it fluid to pivot opinions based on new evidence. As programmers, developers, engineers, we are nothing if not scientists, and we should always be using the scientific method. Always.

It’s OK to be wrong sometimes

As an example of this, I recently came across a blog post written a couple of years ago that stated JavaScript is a bubble. Gritting my teeth, I proceeded to read the article and then the predictably contentious comments.

The article was of course wrong. Reports of JavaScript’s demise had been greatly exaggerated. What I found interesting was that the article also linked to a follow-up by the author which offered a retraction. I thought this was cool, because it showed that the author was human, and that they were capable of recognizing their errors.

I imagine there are many blog posts, articles and lots of other types of original content that probably never see publication because the author was fearful of not being somehow 100% right. My feeling is that for personal blog posts, we should be embracing the unknown and have the courage to expose our own ignorance. I would hope to be corrected in a kind but firm manner if and when I make a technical mistake or have an incorrect concept. It’s what makes feedback a valuable gift, and I would hope to do the same for any colleague or fellow blogger. It’s the only way we can learn and grow.

Here’s to making lots of mistakes in the new year. Cheers!