I did wish I was there when Mr Lawrence Crumpton of Microsoft gave his presentation at LCA2009 about Microsoft’s Open Source effort. According to the article, he was effectively drown out. He know he is in hostile territory, after all, he was at Australia Linux Conference. However, I did not think he was expecting to be drown out.
Before I forget, I need to congratulate him for keeping his calm. Otherwise, knowing how over passionate his opposition could be, we would have a shouting match which is ugly. I am glad he had chosen not to confront the crowd.
His first mistake was to underestimate the knowledge of his crowd: They know the subject matter “Microsoft and open source; did hell freeze over?” better than him. Given his job title, platform strategy manager, he will be more concerned with implementing HQ’s strategy and make business decisions for which the topic he is speaking on is only a sideline. His crowd is in the trenches where they are dealing with the subject matter day-to-day.
Being a senior manager, he is more used to giving presentation to business people. Here lies his second mistake: Try to preach Microsoft official open source line to the technical crowd. Business people will swallow it. There may be one-or-two that disagree with him strongly and give him a good fight but he can easily brush them off as the opposition.
Etiquette dictates that although we disagree with the speaker, we need to give him a chance to express his view. Unless, of course, he is way off course and start spreading lies. Then Ettiquette requires us to call him out. I am categorically saying that Mr Crumpton did not lie, but he might be economical with the truth, or, if he was just parroting a presentation from Microsoft, is guity of spreading the distorted reality Microsoft thinks it is in.
I do not know Andrew Trigell. However, from tracking his past works he does not sound to me like someone with an axe to grind and will give his opposition space to express his view. To cut into someone’s presentation with an opposite view is generally regarded as rude. To have him interrupt the presentation must means he was rubbed up the wrong way and he thinks the presenter must be corrected. Moreover, I am sure when he interject the speech, he is knowingly putting his reputation into bear.
Am I surprise the whole thing degenerated into disarray? No. I was half-expecting that. Partly the crowd is hostile and it takes only a few troublemakers send the presentation into chaos. To have it started by someone with a strong reputation such as Trigell was unexpected.
What I can say is Mr Crumpton squandered the chance to reach out and practice what Microsoft says it is doing. He was presenting at a Linux conference. The program committee gave him a golden chance. Instead, he throw it away by preaching the official line. I know of other Microsoft employees who were send to a hostile conference and come back smelling of roses. They did not manage to change the conference participants view, but they did make them understand their company’s view.
I wish I was there to see the whole thing for myself …