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Allen White

[OT] On Community

Last fall, and winter, and spring I was part of the PASS Election Review Committee. It was interesting, sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating, but a very rewarding experience.

My first PASS conference was in the fall of 2003, and I've attended every one since then. The PASS community, as I've gotten to know it, has been supportive at all times, with the singular purpose of getting us, as data professionals focused on SQL Server, the best information we can get to help us succeed. Over the years I've been involved with PASS I've made friends around the world, and my professional life has progressed beyond any reasonable expectation. That would not have happened without PASS and the community around it.

In the last few years, as I've gotten to know people better, I've become privy to more "inside" information - personality traits, some conflicts, that kind of thing. I've become more aware of the 'political' aspect of the community, and the personalities behind it. It's not a 'bad' thing, it's the way life is. It's interesting, and sometimes disturbing. People who are my friends sometimes don't get along with other people who are my friends. It's ok, life is like that. It's part of maturing within an organization.

One of the things I've learned to do is to (mostly) keep my opinions to myself. (Trust me, if you'd known me for any length of time you'd find that incredibly hard to believe.) In 1980/81 I worked with a guy who'd gotten himself and his family out of Romania, when that was an extremely dangerous thing to do. I asked him once about living under such a regime, and he told me that in Romania 'You can think anything you want'. I've learned that that's a useful mantra here, today, in my everyday life.

Don't get me wrong, I value openness, and I think that it's good that we share our problems, because it allows us to help others who may encounter similar problems, or it may help to get those problems resolved. I also think that there's a lot of sharing that shouldn't be shared. It's one thing to rant, it's entirely another to be hurtful.

So, when the issue of openness came up in our ERC deliberations I listened, but I honestly believe that there are decisions that PASS must make that they must keep private. Sometimes decisions that on the surface don't seem to have any negative effect could hurt someone. I'm pleased with the balance we achieved on this topic with our recommendations to the board for the nominating committee. I think there must be a NomCom so some of the issues that should remain private can do so.

The call is out there now for members of the Nominating Committee. If you meet the qualifications - and yes, there are reasonable qualifications everyone must meet to be considered - then please consider taking the time to participate. It will help PASS select the best candidates for the board, and it will help you gain insight into how this great organization we all benefit from really works.

I look forward to seeing you at the PASS Summit in October.


Published Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:47 PM by AllenMWhite
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K. Brian Kelley said:

One of the things that was talked about were interviews. Something to consider...

If you're a DBA, especially one on call, you know what it's like when there's a major issue. Long hours, little sleep, sometimes for days or weeks at a time. There is this interview because you've thrown your name in to be a candidate for the Board of Directors of PASS. But with your lack of sleep, you say something bone-headed. Something that, if you had just one or two more hours of sleep, you would have stopped the faulty line of thinking that processed it through your brain and spit it out of your mouth.

Do you want that available on the Internet? Do you want that where prospective employers/clients can hear? Or how about folks in the community who didn't know you were considering getting an IV of whatever it is Buck Woody uses, just to keep your eyes open?

This is just one of a whole host of scenarios where privacy is the best policy.  Not everything can be transparent, as Allen has said.

August 11, 2011 1:13 PM

Mark Broadbent said:

Absolutely 100% agree with you Allan. Sometimes we *just* have to have confidence that the people behind the decisions are making them with the best intentions and responsibly. If a decision is correct, explaining why it is correct should not always be a necessity and can sometimes be counter-productive.

Would love to put my name down to NomCom but I think I have a lot more to contribute and prove before I can consider myself worthy of selection.

August 12, 2011 1:29 PM

Roy Ernest said:

This time NomCom volunteers go through a different route. They have to campaign for their own election if they pass the first hurdle. So it is going to be tough to be part of the NomCom.

August 15, 2011 3:57 PM
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About AllenMWhite

Allen White is a consultant and mentor for Upsearch Technology Services in Northeast Ohio. He has worked as a Database Administrator, Architect and Developer for over 30 years, supporting both the Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server platforms over that period.

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