Friday, August 26, 2005
Identity Crisis Cured
Well, my identity crisis is cured. Now I know who I am and so does a much larger piece of the database world than I ever thought would have. That wasn't what I was looking for but the ride has been fun.
First, let me say to those of you who chose to make direct and personal attacks: I understand that the personal attacks come from your personal frustration with your own inability to defend your viewpoints with either wit or with wisdom. I forgive you. I hope you can forgive yourselves.
To those who have otherwise joined the debate on both sides, thank you. I never expected, when I wrote my blog article, to have such a tremendous impact on so many, for good or for bad.
So, how did I get to be so important and infamous? Well, I contacted Stephen Wynkoop at SSWUG.org for an opinion on my original article – I'll leave it to him to decide if he wants to publicly state his opinion on the topic or not.
During our email exchange Stephen mentioned the possiblity of discussing my blog article in his newsletter. Because I have been a fan of Stephen's work for more than 8 years, I was genuinely excited at the possibility of being mentioned in his newsletter.
This is just a guess, but I felt that Stephen chose to mention my blog not based upon whether it was technically correct or not, or whether or not he agreed with it, but rather because the arguments were well stated and, therefore, worthy of debate. That might be a bit of a pat on my own back but I respect Stephen's work and was flattered that my writing caught his attention, even if that attention was initiated by me. So I encouraged him and he mentioned me. And all hell broke loose.
Most of the debate has been on-topic and, even if we disagree, has been professionally courteous. The biggest exception to that professionalism was in the attacks by Brian Walker in his article on SSWUG. Mr. Walker equates one's viewpoint on the identity column debate with good and evil.
First, Mr. Walker's description of the evil natural key supporters:
"Those who favor natural data keys generally support their dogmatic arguments with theoretical ideas while ignoring technical merits. They often spout theory as though blind promotion of theoretical ideas somehow makes them practical facts. They love to talk jargon while pretending that every term has an extremely precise meaning, but their favorite expression is "by definition" and they repeat it very often. Their world seems to consist of a utopia of logical models while others are left to deal with the reality of physical existence."
And the guys in white hats:
"Those who favor surrogate keys generally take a much more pragmatic approach. They usually do not preach or lecture. They may feel strongly that their methods are better for various practical reasons, but they normally do not belittle those who prefer natural data keys. They acknowledge that surrogate key systems are not a perfect solution. They do not view the two approaches as being mutually exclusive. They do not view the other method as a form of pollution in a pristine world. They do not enter database discussions with a propensity to vigorously and aggressively defend intellectual territory. They simply want to implement reliable and efficient databases."
Well, you can take his article for what it's worth.
Joe Celko wrote a good article addressing the technical issues rather than the emotional ones but beware, he bases his dogmatic arguments on the writings of the evil Dr. Codd.
The one thing I have learned in all of this is that I should never have mentioned a coworker as the inspiration for the article. That was wrong and for it, I apologize. I would rewrite the original article but, having published it already, I would not want to remove his rebuttal without his explicit permission.
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