When did our industry make the transition to one where foul language, off-colored women-demeaning jokes, and illicit drug glorification became a respectable and celebrated medium for talking about software practices? Did I miss something? An announcement or white-paper suggesting the new appropriate way to present to our industry?

I attended the software craftsmanship conference in Chicago last month, and while I enjoyed the conference and found most of the talks very enlightening, I was disappointed with the pervasive lack of professionalism. Apparently the F-bomb is the new vogue for software craftsmanship because it seemed like about every third speaker felt it necessary to scatter it throughout their presentation. Also prolific was the inclusion of hard-core drug references. I didn’t realize that was an important part of software craftsmanship. I recognize that this conference is less formal than some, and a noticeably smaller group than others, but I wasn’t the only one who was dismayed by the nature of some of the talks.

The conference had time allocated for lightning talks, and during a break someone gave a lightning talk on this subject. He talked about the need for professionalism in our industry and lamented the lack of professionalism at the conference. He specifically mentioned an off-colored, demeaning joke made by one of the presenters. After his lightning talk I went to shake his hand and tell him I appreciated his courage to stand up for what he felt was important, but I was surprised and pleased to see that I had to wait in line behind several others who were doing the same.

I realize that I am more sensitive to this sort of thing than some and I recognize that others have a different background than I do and there were many who found no offense in the material. But I wanted to be a voice for those who did. And hopefully someone, somewhere, will see this post and realize as they prepare their presentation that, while there are many who will not find offense in R-Rated material in a conference talk, there are also many who will.

I do feel it is important to maintain a decent level of professionalism in our craft. I hope that this was an anomaly and not the beginning of a new trend.