Today Belgium broke a world record formerly held by Iraq. 250 days after the elections, we still don't have a new government. I'm not into politics, but being without a full-fledged government is annoying. As a business owner, I have to put some decisions on hold, because there's too much uncertainty about the outcome of some rulings that are postponed. We also don't make a good impression as a region, and we mainly have ourselves to blame—not personally, but as a regional community.
Last weekend, I read an interview with Peter Hinssen who wrote: "Goede projecten van Belgische start-ups worden op ongeloof onthaald. 'Iets Belgisch? Dat kan toch niet goed zijn.'" This is typical for us: "Good projects from Belgian start-ups are received with disbelief. 'Made in Belgium? That can't be a good thing.'" Peter refers to Dries Buytaert: "Miljoenen mensen gebruiken zijn tool om websites te bouwen. Toen hij zijn bedrijf oprichtte, deed hij dat niet in België, maar trok hij naar Boston." ("Millions of people use his tool (Drupal) to build web sites. When he started his company (Acquia), he didn't stay in Belgium, instead he went to Boston.")
Today, I've found an article "Het nieuwe Silicon Valley ligt in Gent" ("Ghent, the new Silicon Valley"). It lists some successful IT companies and praises the innovative climate of the city. I agree: I live in Ghent as an immigrant from Ypres, formerly known as Flanders Language Valley and I love my new city. Nevertheless I agree with the last sentence of the article: "Maar toch blijft Silicon Valley voor veel techneuten het beloofde land. De Amerikaanse succesverhalen van Drupalontwikkelaar Dries Buytaert [...] spreken wat dat betreft boekdelen. De echt grote jongens trekken nog altijd naar Californië om hun ding te doen." ("However Silicon Valley remains the promised land for technical people. The American success stories of Drupal developer Dries Buytaert [...] are a good example. The big guys still move to California to develop their business.") Apparently the journalist thinks that Boston is a Californian city, which puts the whole article into a different perspective ;-)
Doing business in Belgium is problematic. Currently, the iText business is divided into a Belgian part (IP, R&D, development in Ghent) and a Californian part (sales, commercialisation of the product in the Bay Area), and I'm trying to keep it that way, but sometimes I wonder why I would stay in Europe.
Seems like I'm UNWANTED here anyway.
Last Sunday, a Dutch Bruno Lowagie Wikipedia page was created. Almost immediatelly it was nominated for deletion. Am I important enough to have a Wikipedia page? I don't know, and I don't care. I don't need a Wikipedia page to do business, do I? However, when I started reading the comments, I almost fell off my chair.
Que? For some reason the discussion is moved to another place. First to this page. I summarize:
The discussion goes on on another place (why doesn't anybody structure this information? It was very hard to understand the chronology of the different posts). Anonymous asks for the criteria that are used to accept/refuse a bio. I'll skip the funny bidding with respect to the Google and Sourceforge rankings (although I have a strong impression that Kleuske is somewhat frustrated or jealous). At some point the focus is on iText and the iText in Action book. One person implies that iText sucks and that the book is lousy:
Is this guy for real? This remark caused me to look for the whois information of kleuske.nl, but I didn't get any wiser. It's clear Kleuske doesn't have a clue about iText, and it worries me that a person like this is allowed to moderate Wikipedia. I must admit that I always consult (and trust) en.wikipedia.org. Confronted with the moderators of nl.wikipedia.org, I think I'm going to stick with the English version.
In the discussion about the book, Kleuske keeps on repeating "Een goed boek volstaat. Duizend slechte zijn niet genoeg." ("One good book is sufficient; a thoused lousy books aren't.") However, it is clear that he didn't read the book, nor did he check any of the arguments that were offered: the first book was reprinted within a year after its publication; there was a special print for the Indian market; it was considered a best-seller which made it eligible for a second edition; it received plenty of good reviews,...
Note that even Manning doesn't escape the hatred (because that's how I've started to perceive the false allegations by Kleuske and Co):
What is the source of this information? If you go to the Manning homepage, you can find a list of more than 60 titles that are currently available in MEAP (Manning Early Access Program = books that are in production). Just look at the Catalog and you can immediately see that Paul B. talks non sense.
Moreover, Manning isn't about quantity; it's about quality! Let met quote Norman Richards: Manning primarily publishes in-depth technical books aimed at experienced developers and those who aspire to be experienced developers. Looking at the front page, I see books about technologies like Groovy, Hibernate, iText, EJB3, Spring. (I picked those because I've read or reviewed all of them - though I've only seen a few chapters of the last one - and know that they are all solid books) This is a publisher that reaches out to developers and says "Look! We've got what you are looking for!" O'Reilly doesn't.
That's an article dating from 2007 just after my first book was published. My second book was published in 2010: I have first hand experience, and I can affirm that Manning has become even more professional than in the past. Manning equals quality. If you don't agree, please provide proof or remain forever silent!
Fortunately, there are also some positive reactions:
I can laugh with the Wikipedia story. In Dutch, we'd call this "een storm in een glas water"; translated in English: "a storm in a tea-cup." What worries me, is that PapaGeno1970 may be right: there is a growing lack of respect in our society. There seems to be a dangerous trend in Europe. You can see this trend in business as stated by Peter Hinssen in the news paper article from February 12. Looking at Belgium, you can also see it in politics.
We live in a region of wiseacres who grudge somebody the light in his eyes if he doesn't think alike. Everybody thinks he's right and that the other is wrong. Kleuske thinks he knows a book by its cover; Paul B. claims that Manning can't publish more than 100 books which can be proven wrong in one click,...
I repeat: I don't care if the Wikipedia pays is kept or deleted. I wouldn't have spent a blog about that silly Wikipedia page if it weren't for the comments that display a blatant lack of respect. Please give me a reason to keep on doing business in Belgium! Because I'm getting really fed up with the dismay.