An open letter to Bob Marshall

Dear Bob,

We’ve had our differences, mostly around a particular set of tweets you sent
out about the Pask award in 2010. I was respectful enough to address those
with you face-to-face. You refused to retract them, particularly the most
hurtful comment, and you told me at the time that I was “naive” for believing
that I won the Pask award fairly.

I told you that it would make me less likely to want to work with you, and you
said you were sorry to hear that. That was as close as I ever got to an

I didn’t want it to get in the way of learning, so I left it aside and reached
past it. I don’t believe that any one aspect of a person affects or defines
all aspects. I attended your RightShifting conference. I offered you some tips
from my experience in Dreyfus to help with your Marshall Model. I was as
forgiving as I feel I could be, and our community interactions seemed good.

I thought that things had become more positive. You reached out and offered me
a hug last time we met, which I reciprocated. I thought that perhaps you had
started to see that maybe I really did deserve that award; that my work was
meaningful. I had dreams that you might one day apologize.

Then, on Friday, this Twitter sequence happened.

@flowchainsensei: I’d like to work on advancing the theory and practice of software and product development. Can’t see that ever happening in the UK.

@somesheep: @flowchainsensei IME @tastapod @lunivore @PapaChrisMatts for example prove you wrong. You can make advancements. Not the ones you want?

‏@flowchainsensei: @somesheep Wise up, dude.

@PapaChrisMatts: How is this tweet consistent with #NVC &
#antimatterprinciple? Cc @somesheep @tastapod @lunivore

@flowchainsensei: @PapaChrisMatts Hobgoblins, little minds, etc. @somesheep @tastapod @lunivore

Bob, did you seriously just resort to name-calling? Because this Twitter sequence makes it look as if you did, and as if you’re doing it to Dan and I particularly. I also found that you appear to have blocked me on Twitter, with – as far as I can tell – zero precursor on my side to deserve it.

Oh, well.

I looked up the word “Hobgoblin” and found some very positive connotations. I
once played Puck, the most famous hobgoblin, as a child, and remembered that
while he’s mischevous, he’s not all bad.

Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck;
Are you not he?

So I am a Hobgoblin. I own that, and will as always seek to expand my “little
mind”. I take your insult and make it mine, and wish you good luck in return.
I will turn it round, and use it to create a light-hearted manifesto designed
to steer the mischief we all end up causing in a positive direction, and to
forgive others who cause it themselves.

Gentles, do not reprehend,
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

If you want to meet up, have a drink, and talk about whatever the hell is
bugging you, I’m more than happy to do so. Just let me know how to get in
touch and make plans, since I can’t DM you any more.


PS: I also apologise for the small jibe I made myself. It was petty and
unnecessary. Sorry.

PPS: I’ve also been pointed to the quote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” which clarifies a lot but not everything. I did ask for clarification over Twitter but of course you probably didn’t see it! Either way, I am happy to join Chris in requesting that if you’re going to preach non-violent communication, please do more of it.

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6 Responses to An open letter to Bob Marshall

  1. nosapience says:

    Eloquence personified. Your not the only one blocked on Twitter!

  2. Paul Klipp says:

    That’s a terrific letter which probably would have achieved its stated goal if you had written it by hand and dropped it the mail to Bob, telling no one else. As it is, it looks like a public shaming and I did not think you so petty as that. If it is a public shaming (with apparent justification) then just roast him.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Paul,

      Bob has twice as many followers as me on Twitter. He has more experience. He has used his dominant position to publicly slam someone else’s positive opinion of my work. It’s less of a public shaming than my public refusal to be bullied. Again.

      Also, as I said in my manifesto, I’m not afraid to put a jackass’s head on someone if it fits.


  3. … Liz, having met you and your bright spirit, *hugs* from a distance.

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