Tag Archives: critic

Lunatics and bigots

A long time ago, when I wrote my first book, someone came up to me at a party and suggested that they could have written a better book. It may have been just a light-hearted joke, but I could see that he was serious and quite affronted that I had written a book that he felt he was better qualified to write.

I just said to him that he should do it – plenty of people believe they could have written a better book, or made a better film, or written a better piece of music, but how many of them actually go out and do it? If all the great books, symphonies, and films have already been created then why do people keep on creating new ones anyway? Nobody has a monopoly on the truth.

Because of these experiences I learned long ago to ignore those who are critical without offering alternatives or improvements, rather like an old boss of mine who always wanted his team to come to him with suggestions on how to fix a problem, rather than bleating about the problem itself.

But recently, I’ve been receiving critical comments from an individual on LinkedIn and Twitter. He has now called my magazine IT Decisions ‘bigoted’. Fortunately for him, he did not address his abuse to me personally because as most people know, making menacing threats or libel via electronic means is quite a serious offence in most jurisdictions.

I’m not personally all that bothered. Anyone who publishes an opinion of any form has to expect some ridiculous responses now and then. However, back in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester could lock his wife away in the attic. Now the lunatics have Twitter and other social networks to publish their world view.

So what did IT Decisions publish that’s so terrible?

Here is a report, commenting on research from Nasscom lamenting how few Indian graduates are ready for employment. It’s not me making these claims directly, it’s the Indian trade association Nasscom. Got that? It’s an Indian trade association bemoaning their own education system – not me.

In my view, the Indian hi-tech industry has enough good graduates due to the sheer numbers coming through college, but if the universities were more attuned to what industry needs then things could be a lot better. And the point of the article was anyway to contrast the value of full-time and part-time education, with the view that a part-time education may be more valuable than most have given it credit for.

Then, this report on the views of the Brasscom president, Antonio Gil. That’s the Brazilian hi-tech trade asssociation – similar to Nasscom in India. Gil made some flippant remarks about Brazilian IT teams being more inquisitive than Chinese or Indians. I reported his remarks, within the context of them not being politically correct, though having more than a grain of truth because of the way IT companies work in these different locations.

IT Decisions reports on what is important to technology decision makers in Brazil, but my magazine doesn’t have a hidden agenda. It’s not there to bash India and China, or only ever blow a trumpet for Brazil. When the magazine extensively covered the recent IT worker strikes in São Paulo we were accused by some in Brazil of being too negative and not promoting the industry enough.

My response to those people in Brazil was that we are not here as flag-wavers for the local industry, we are reporting facts that are relevant for those buying IT systems.

And that’s the reality. You can’t please all the people all the time if you want to try reporting the truth. Reporting always has some favour, or slant, or agenda, but in general we are trying to provide good information and analysis, without adverts, without press releases, without vendor-sponsored content, and without spin.

For those reasons alone, IT Decisions is already a lot more honest than most newspapers who need to keep a proprietor happy, or advertisers on board, or to appeal to the prejudice of regular readers.

I have plenty of good friends in India who know exactly how much I have written positively about that country and how far their IT industry has come in the past couple of decades. I don’t need to defend myself here when I have personal notes of thanks from people in India, all the way up to Manmohan Singh himself. I wonder if Dr Singh would have taken the time to write a note of thanks to me if he considered me and my magazine to be bigoted India-bashers?

Jane Eyre

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Nowt as queer as folk

When I published my first book, I remember hearing someone bitterly complain that they could write a better book on the same subject. I challenged him and said that although the poet laureate may not be scared of my work, at least I had sat down, done the research, formed an opinion, and published it for all to see. The person who grumbles that they can do better should recognise that and go away and write their own book.

Of course, there is some real trash published by writers or musicians. Sometimes you do wonder how on earth it does ever see the light of day, but even those who publish trash have worked hard to get that book or album out into the world. The critics who claim to be better need to demonstrate that, rather than just criticise. At least I could talk to my own book critics and find out what they propose could have been done better. And I do think that I’ve improved what I have written over time.

I was on TV all over the world this weekend, presenting a part of the BBC ‘Click’ TV show. I cannot tell you how many abusive and unfriendly emails I have had. Very strange indeed. I have had lots of texts and mails from people who liked what I said, but why do people send emails saying ‘I hate you’ or ‘I don’t like the way you walk!’

The funny thing is that I suspect these people are not just critics. They are a couple of kings short of a full deck of cards. How do you engage and argue with boneheads like that?
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary Speaking at the Oxford Bookstore, Bangalore - Aug 2004

Oscar Lopez, where are you?

When I wrote my first book ‘Outsourcing to India’ I remember attending an event at London Business School and hearing a distinguished Indian business commentator tell me that he could have written a better book. My advice to him was to write his book rather than talk of the hypothetical possibility of him ever publishing it – even if it is better than my own effort.

I’ve never claimed that my first book was a masterpiece. It was an observation on the changing nature of business at that time and specifically dealt with India from the perspective of an outsider – so the critic would have struggled to achieve anything similar as it was intended to gaze at India through the eyes of a visitor anyway.

And that book did the job. It’s out of date now because the industry moves so fast in India, but it’s remarkable how much of that commentary is still valid today.

At present, I’m writing on the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum blog. The forum is the biggest IT and IT-enabled services event in India and takes place every February, I’m leaving for Mumbai on Sunday. I’m blogging in advance of the event and will be reporting on that blog with information about what is going on at the event itself.

It seems already that the debate over Indian companies using social media has touched a nerve. A recent blog post by Vishal Gondal criticised the lack of insight many Indian tech firms are showing when it comes to social media. He got several quite nasty comments. I added a comment suggesting that his views should be listened to because even if it is painful to hear, some of his observations ring true. Then “Oscar Lopez” commented on me!

“It is easy for someone like Mark Kobayishi Hillary to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude – he himself has been known NOT to respond to criticism of his views – especially in the wake of his diatribe against Indian software companies in the UK. Mark, you will do well to read your own words and follow them.”

Well , that’s a surprise. So now I have anonymous critics who won’t even put their own real name on blog posts or engage me in conversation about what they think and feel?

The real issue here is over opinions. Clearly I have expressed an opinion that has upset Oscar. But then if I never expressed any opinions, I couldn’t write or blog very effectively. However, I’d like to imagine that most of my opinions are formed from an intelligent analysis of research, facts, and experience. Clearly Oscar doesn’t agree.

I’d be interested to hear more from “Oscar”, in particular to understand what my diatribe against Indian companies in the UK might be all about. And as my contact details are all publicly available and I’m actively participating in a number of online forums, I’m not sure how I have failed to respond to some critical points.

Oscar, it’s over to you.