I’ve mentioned from time to time how keeping a blog has shaped not just my ability to write, but also to be a critical thinker. It has raised my awareness of the value of speaking clearly and eloguently.

That point was driven home again today while I was looking into the [geeky protocol I’m playing with] and the [geeky problem] I was having. As a result, I found myself browsing through the Mozilla bug database.

Now, the Mozilla bug database is an interesting beast. It is the focal point for discussion of issues related to any of the numerous Mozilla products and technologies and to date over 400,000 bugs have been filed. Nearly all of these are about fairly mundane and, well, boring topics. But once in a while one of these bugs will sing – become more of a cricket, as it were – and draw insightful commentary that broadens in scope and takes on larger, more meaningful issues.

Which is how I found myself scanning through the comments of bug #307813. In brief, the bug started as a complaint about having to type ‘<svg xmlns="hhtp://">‘ instead of the simpler and more convenient ‘<svg>‘ in a particular file format. And that’s as technical as I’m going to get. Like I said, boring and mundane.

But the dialogue (in the comments section) is interesting – it quickly evolves from the trivial issue to the broader question of policy, and the philosophical beliefs about what users need or want. (e.g. “Trying to teach pigs to sing just annoys ’em.”) And so I found myself not just scanning, but really reading comment #14. There was something about the writing style and the mind behind it that caught my attention. It seemed particularly articulate and insightful. It has interesting references to other writings. It was compelling.

Only after I’d read it, and had that, “Wow, nicely said!”, reaction did I look at who the author was. I guess it’s no coincidence that it turned out to be Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, the programming language that’s been the focus of my career for the last 8 years, and CTO for arguably the most influential OpenSource organization in the industry. You don’t influence people and industry without being articulate.

(And in true Mozilla fashion, the bug is still “NEW” more than two years after it was filed. Ah well, eloquence doesn’t solve everything.)

[Photo by George1652]