19 September 2011

Thoughts On the Death Star Article

All the attention my Death Star article has received got me thinking. Figured I'd share a few observations:

1) If you want something to go viral, mention Star Wars. I've published 55+ articles and even won an award for one of them. None has ever generated as much buzz & attention as Don't Come To The Dark Side. Now, I wrote this one with the same motivation & method as any other piece. I always hope my articles will be popular and well received, but I don't pick a topic or theme just because I want it to go viral - as if that's within my control. Anyway, I never imagined it'd take off like this.

2) If you every mention Star Wars, do your homework 'cause if you get even a tiny detail wrong, the fanboys will Call. You. Out.

3) Commentators who said the article was "brilliant, hilarious and important" have exquisite taste. Those who said "Ward just doesn't get it" just don't get it.

4) I really wish I'd stuck with my first draft of the metal bikini line ("they look awesome") instead of the blander version I ended up with ("they look cool").

5) Some people think we can't learn real life lessons from fiction. I feel bad for them. Some other people think Star Wars is real. I feel bad for them too.

5.b) Actually, nobody thinks Star Wars is real. But some people take the films seriously enough that other people think they think it's real. It's the "other people" who got it wrong... so I guess I'll feel bad for them too.

6) Nerds are awesome... and they're everywhere.

7) Most commentaries on my article focused on the technology issues in the article. Relatively few cued in on the leadership lessons. But really, the article was about identifying Vader's psychopathic leadership style as much as it was a technical commentary on Death Star Systems Engineering.

8) The article was about Death Stars and droids. People who think it was about aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons or the Joint Strike Fighter are revealing their own opinions of those systems. I'm staying mum on whether any contemporary DoD systems fit the Death Star model. I will acknowledge, however, that the Millennium Falcon is a B-52.

9) Despite #8 above, the article wasn't JUST about Death Stars and droids. It was also about good design approaches and the importance of substance over style when assessing the value of a particular system or technology.

The temptation to write a sequel is strong - and several people have already sent suggestions about what the follow-on article should address. Not sure if I'll do that or not. I actually have two other articles in the pipeline already, and there's a 3-month lag between submitting a piece and seeing it published, so it'll be a little while before anything emerges. But I promise, if I do a sequel, I won't wait 20 years...

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