An invitation to practitioners

Consider this scenario. You're at your development workstation, showing me your application and the tools you use to build it. We discuss the architecture of your software, the nature of your environment, and the ways in which your tools both do and do not meet your needs. My virtual camera, looking over your shoulder, records everything we say and everything that happens onscreen. Then I edit the session, which might have taken two or three hours, to produce a 20-minute screencast.

That screencast will be of compelling interest to your fellow practitioners. Similar ones that I might produce in collaboration with them will likewise appeal to you. But for several reasons, it may not be possible for me to make such movies.

Confidentiality is the overriding concern. If your application confers strategic advantage -- and if it didn't, you'd be buying rather than building -- you'll need to hold your cards close to your vest.
So here's my first pitch: Unless you're willing and able to highlight your own stuff -- in which case I'm all eyes and ears -- we'll focus on the tools and infrastructure that you're building on top of and integrating with. Moreover, I'll publish only what you approve. Ideally the final cut will include enough cinema verité to be interesting and useful, without crossing any lines you can't cross. I don't know if that's feasible, but I want to find out.

Then there's the question of incentive. It's clearly in my interest to pursue this idea, and it's in the interest of my readers, viewers, and listeners, but what's in it for you and your company? Here's my second pitch: You're doing innovative work, and one of your challenges is to find the people who can help you do more of it; showcasing your expertise and fluency with leading-edge software technologies might be a good way to attract that talent. [Full story at]

I've received a couple of good leads so far, and a larger number of pitches from vendors wanting to do demos. That's understandable given that the first four installments of The Screening Room have, in fact, been interview-style vendor demos, but I'd like to reiterate that my goal is to widen the focus of this series to include interviews with practitioners who are customers of the vendors, and to produce screencasts that highlight the work of those practioners as enabled by one or more vendor-supplied tools, products, frameworks, or infrastructures.

Ted Conway's note posted to the unofficial SAS weblog nicely captures the spirit of what I'm hoping to accomplish. It's going to be tricky to bootstrap this thing because, as yet, there are no reference screencasts of the sort I envision. But I'm hoping that once we break the sled out of the ice, it'll start to move.

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