The Ribbon Man interview – fluff?

Looking at the comments, it seems not everyone is happy with the Matt Stein interview. If so, I’m sorry you feel that way about the piece. In my own defence, I would point out the following:

  1. I like to think my work at Cadalyst represents a balanced viewpoint. I pride myself on being fair. Whether Autodesk deserves praise or criticism for something, I provide it. But an interview isn’t really the place to do that. An interview is supposed to be an opportunity for the interviewee to say things, not a platform for the interviewer’s opinions. My job as an interviewer is to extract information, not provide it. In my opinion, the best TV interviewers listen a lot and say very little. Confrontational interviewers can be fun to watch, though.
  2. I have many other opportunities, both here and in Bug Watch, to express viewpoints that may conflict with what Matt had to say. Matt doesn’t have a blog or a regular Cadalyst column, he has this one chance to put his point across to Cadalyst readers. I think it’s fair to let Matt make best use of that opportunity and not beat him down with a confrontational style.
  3. I think it’s important for readers to understand the thinking behind the user interface changes. You may not agree with Autodesk’s thinking (in fact, I often don’t), but if you know what the thinking is, you can argue against it more convincingly.
  4. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this because it involves private correspondence, but getting this interview published at all was an effort and a half. Anyone who wants to get access to an Autodesk employee’s comments for publication has to go through Autodesk’s PR people. While the people I dealt with were pleasant and cooperative, the pace at which things happened is best described as glacial.
  5. As a result, one of the first set of questions I asked and a whole set of follow-up questions didn’t get answered in time for publication. Cadalyst could have waited for that to happen before publishing, but AutoCAD 2010 would probably have come out first, rendering the answers somewhat irrelevant…
  6. With all that said, I actually agree that part 1 of the interview comes across as a bit soft on Autodesk. The very fact that Shaan Hurley thinks it’s unbiased is a bit of a worry. 😉 However, I think some of the questions in part 2 are fairly probing. Have a look around and see how many comments you can find by Autodesk employees that are critical in any way of the current product line-up. Getting a public admission that “Ribbon customisation should be easier” out of the AutoCAD Ribbon’s number one fanboy and past Autodesk’s PR people is, in relative terms, something of a triumph.

Enough from me, what would you have asked? Let’s hear what questions you think the interview is missing. Maybe there will be a chance to ask them one day.

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