[Indie Expets] Tabs vs. Spaces – Content vs. Context and POV

Thanks to those of you who responded to yesterday’s email.

As a reminder, we’re exploring point of view.

There are two components to a point of view: content and context.

I used to be unaware of the context part, until Bob Lalasz started writing about the context part.

Previously I would have defined point of view as: an opinion you can support. I would have added: it’s better if your point of view is one that reasonable people can disagree about, and it might be ideal if it runs contrary to popular opinion. And I would have reminded you that it’s critical your point of view be relevant to your client’s world.

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“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

“If you have a point of view on something your clients don’t care about, does it have impact?”

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Your point of view also has a contextual component. This is what Bob helped me understand.

You can think of your point of view as… well, literally, your point. of. view. It’s where you stand and what you see as a result of standing there. That’s why the words point of view, perspective, and standpoint can be used interchangeably.

Understanding the contextual parts of your point of view is important. Acting on that understanding by consistently operating from the same point of view helps build trust, which helps build authority.

In yesterday’s email I asked y’all to give me your thoughts on tabs vs. spaces for code indentation, and I also asked for you to tell me about what context you’re operating from.

Here’s a summary of what you told me:

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You can see I’ve distinguished between content and context. If we look at the context, we see 3 categories:

  • What’s best for me?
  • What’s best for the team I’m working for or collaborating with?
  • What’s best for the business I’m working for?

We can map the context in a simple visual:

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If we just focus on the content, we think of a point of a view as an answer to the question: “which is better, tabs or spaces?”

If we focus on the context, we realize that point of view is also how you answer questions in general.

When I map the point of view space I see in y’all’s answers to the tabs vs. spaces question, I see three ways of answering questions in general:

  • What’s best for me?
  • What’s best for the team I’m working for or collaborating with?
  • What’s best for the business I’m working for?

If someone is really operating from the “What’s best for me” perspective, we could expect their answer to other questions to also be formulated from that same perspective.

If the question is: “should test-driven development be used?”, we would expect the recommendation to come from the same “What’s best for me and my way of working and my personal productivity or satisfaction?” perspective.

It’s reasonable to ask this question now: Is one of those 3 points of view better than the others?

I’d be interested in your thoughts on that if you care to share (just hit reply). Again, I’ll do the same thing with those replies. I’ll summarize the themes, but won’t share individual responses back to the list.

-P