Statler and Waldorf are the 2 old guys on the balcony from The Muppet Show. You know, the ones that did nothing but rag on the show from on high, saying things like:
Statler: What would you do if you were a rich man?
Waldorf: I’d buy the network and cancel this show!
Statler: And there you go, there’s nothing like good comedy.
Waldorf: Nothing like it on this show!
Some of the recent round of blogging from The Server Side Symposium reminds me of those guys in some ways – sitting out in the weblog balcony making wisecracks for the web audience to read. Some commentary is even-handed, praising good sessions, and blasting the bad ones. Others seem to hold ambivalence as the highest compliment they’re willing to pay, and they are the Statlers and Waldorfs. Though few remember those old Muppets’ names, their commentary on the show is one of the things people seem to remember most about the Muppet Show, and with a smile. Similarly, the philosophy of blasting everything has an interesting place in the Java community. Certainly, such personalities are memorable, and bring humor to the community, but is there anything useful beyond the humor in it all?
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “But the new rebel is a Sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”
This too carries with it a measure of truth. My transient conclusion is that there is a strange value in such viewpoints, in humor and memory, but that it doesn’t really add much to the community or profession. Sounds a lot like a jester (or perhaps a joker?).