I’ve always believed when it comes to information, openness is a good thing. I also understand that, at times, companies need to keep what they’re doing under wraps for competitive and strategic reasons.
So when I saw Bjorn Furuknap’s series detailing what to expect in the next version of SharePoint (gleaned from reams of documentation Microsoft has made freely available), I thought to myself, “Thanks, Bjorn, for distilling all that into something I can understand.”
Others have not been as kind, claiming he has violated some sort of non-disclosure agreement (it does not apply to him, as he’s not an MVP nor a Microsoft partner), or that his information is actually misinformation (which we won’t know until Microsoft actually does release the beta).
For those who might not know, Bjorn has been involved in SharePoint for a long time, runs an academy for SharePoint education, publishes a SharePoint magazine, and freely admits that “SharePoint sucks.”
Here, Bjorn explains his role as SharePoint watchdog and contrarian: “I’ve always been a critical thinker and question everything I read. Although I always love and have loved SharePoint, I saw early on that there were major problems that no one would address. It is a disease of any fan-based community, that very few will listen to those that contradict the consensus opinion. It doesn’t help SharePoint that nobody talks about the bad, and I think that in order to overcome adversity, one should focus on eliminating one’s weaknesses rather than basking in the glory of one’s strengths.”
Though completely immersed in SharePoint, Bjorn retains his freedom and independence, which allows him to speak on topics others might not want to hear. He continues:
“As an outsider, I have much more freedom than anyone else. I honestly do not care about my reputation in the community; it does not make me a better or worse SharePoint professional and I don’t learn anything new that I don’t already know. Without the bonds of reputation preservation, I can say what needs to be said without fear of how it will affect anyone’s opinion of me.
Contrary to what many think, however, I don’t hunt for controversial topics. I simply don’t see the point in reposting information that’s already out there. There’s a vast and highly skilled technical community out there that will cover the How-To’s of SharePoint. There’s at least as vast a fan-based community that will point out what’s great and wonderful about SharePoint. What’s left are deep and complex technical issues, and pointing out the problems with SharePoint.
That’s where I fit in; I write what nobody else writes, having opinions that very few others dare to publicly state. Yes, I believe SharePoint sucks. Yes, I think the product team seriously damages SharePoint by their silly secrecy policy. Yes, I think many of the MVPs are MVPs because of brown-nosing rather than of any valuable contribution to anything, much less the community. Yes, I think the community has gone from a constructive and helpful community to a ‘money first, screw everything else’ attitude.
Inevitably, that will cause some people to hate me, but regardless of their opinion of me, they will listen, and that gives me the power to change SharePoint and the community.”
Bjorn might be many things, but he’s not uninteresting. His “pull no punches” approach and brutal honesty earned him the nickname “The Dark Knight of SharePoint” from no less a SharePoint luminary than Joel Oleson. You can follow his blog at blog.furuknap.net, and in the next few days he will be launching introducingsharepoint2013.com to keep on top of the news about SharePoint’s next step.