The Emperor's New Clothes

I recently had the pleasure of attending the TPF User Group conference in Orlando, Florida, and for those of you who did not have an opportunity to be there, I will say that you missed a good conference, and several productive sessions with fellow TPF'ers. I've authored several pieces on the TUG over the last 5 years, and for the most part they've been positive and supportive. In those cases where I've felt a need to express my thoughts in opposition to the TUG, it's always been as constructive criticism, and with the best interests of the organization (and the people it represents) in mind. Having said that, I ask your indulgence as I conjure up some memories, (hopefully pleasant), from your childhood.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote a wonderful story about an Emperor who was so fond of new clothes, that he was easily fooled by two would-be tailors. It seems that the tailors told the Emperor that the material they used was so uncommonly beautiful, that it became invisible to any one who was unfit for the office he held, or was incorrigibly stupid. Well to make a short story even shorter, the Emperor paid the tailors a fortune in gold for a suit of clothes which didn't exist, and even though the Emperor couldn't see any clothes himself, he was not about to admit it fearing he was stupid, or worse, unfit for the office he held. The Emperor put on his new suit of clothes and led a grand procession through the town. The people cheered and remarked how beautiful the Emperor's new clothes were, since no one dared to admit they couldn't see the clothes. That is, no one except one small child who innocently cried out that the Emperor wasn't wearing any clothes at all. This spark of innocence spread through the crowds of onlookers, and their cheers quickly turned to laughter as the naked Emperor did his best to conceal his shame and humiliation as he finished the procession.

The TUG has maintained that only licensed users of production TPF systems be permitted to attend the bi-annual conferences, or participate in the proceedings on the agenda. That rules out any participation by software or hardware vendors other than IBM, any participation by the hundreds of TPF consultants and contractors, and any opportunity for non-licensed, non-customers to meet with the technical community in an open exchange of ideas and experiences. This 1970's approach to exclusivity runs the risk of being compared to restricting certain groups of people from joining country clubs because of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. Now I know that those are pretty strong words, but let's be honest about the real issue here. The TPF industry as it stands today, is the result of many different people and many different companies ALL contributing ideas, and time, and dollars, and experience, to this operating system. TPF is licensed by IBM, but it belongs to the masses, because without the masses it wouldn't be half the product it is today.

It's time for the TUG to acknowledge the contributions made by everyone directly or indirectly involved with TPF. By recognizing the value of these contributions, we accomplish several very positive things. First, the User Group truly becomes a "user" group. Next, I can just about guarantee a 10 to 20 percent increase in attendance at future conferences. That's more ideas brought to the table, and more participation within the various sub-committees. Finally, it affords potential TPF customers the opportunity to learn more about the technology (in a controlled environment), than they will ever learn from any other source... including IBM marketing, or this publication!

It's time for the membership to call for a vote to allow those people and companies currently excluded from membership to actively participate in future TUG conferences. If the Executive Committee believes that no one noticed the vendors and consultants who attended the Orlando conference under the guise of IBM Corporation, or sporting name tags indicating that they were employees of member airlines, then I have several beautiful suits of clothes I would like to sell you. And if the Executive Committee wasn't even aware that these things were going on, then I think a whole new wardrobe is in order. Trust me on this folks. You can't buy clothes like this any more, and that's the naked truth!

Alan Sadowsky