An Open Letter To David Danto

Mr. Danto,

I recently read your post in Commercial Integrator entitled “An IT Guy’s Guide to ‘Talking Legacy AV'” and after reading was at somewhat of a loss.  You made sure to preface the post itself by stating that you had a somewhat controversial opinion on the topic and by promising some “tongue-in-cheek” commentary to follow.  Being well versed in sarcasm myself, I read with an open mind.

Your post quickly turned however, and while reading your self stated “controversial” opinion, I was suddenly reminded of a saying about opinions being like… something or other…and everyone having one or something to that effect.

My advice would be to focus less on eye contact and perhaps learn a little about tact in general.  Those lessons may help you avoid insulting large groups of people simultaneously.  One such group are the control programmers you leveled your aim at, calling them high school students and recent graduates.

It took me about 5 seconds to go to LinkedIn and type “Crestron Programmer” in the search window.  You may actually do that yourself next time before putting keyboard to screen.  If you do, you will find, as I did, a largely diverse set of individuals of various ages, most of which have several professional certifications and many of which have college degrees in everything from Industrial Electronics and Electronics Engineering to Business Administration.  All of them are assuredly smart enough to read and almost certain to take offense to your assessment of their skill sets and educational backgrounds.

I think this fact in itself may be enough to dispute your claim that these companies’ employees are comprised 80% of morons and 20% of brilliant people.  You may learn to garner a little respect for the people and companies that helped build the very industry you yourself benefit from today.

Many of your statements attack business models and specific product categories, so I take no issue with those.  Typically with a post such as yours however, the author extends the courtesy of helping to point the reader in the right direction or to add some valuable commentary inspiring a call to action.  I found that to be as absent as your manners in your post.

You purport that every firm that has sold or is still selling “Legacy AV Systems” is duping their clientele, and I’m sure your potential clients appreciate your seeing their own “legacy” decisions as naive and gullible.  If tomorrow’s obsolescence of today’s purchases is the standard by which you judge this practice of tricking others, then I would argue that your favored IT folks are as guilty as the next.  However, this is not the yard stick by which snake oil is measured.

The truth is that the world changes, best practices change, and technology changes as well.  We can help people make the best decisions today, and they will inevitably not be the best decisions the next time a technology refresh is done, AV or IT notwithstanding.

At the end of the day, AV is an industry in transition.  As such, there are companies in all phases of that transition with some embracing the bleeding edge, others clinging to the familiar, and a great host of many who are in between those two extremes.  None of that makes them charlatans or idiots.  Most of them are hard working people just trying to find their way and they read industry publications to perhaps learn something valuable that may assist them on that journey.

In closing, there is a fine line between”tongue-in-cheek” and “foot-in-mouth”.  If you are really trying to inspire change, you may find some common ground an asset or limit your written attacks to products and practices as opposed to taking aim at the education and intelligence of others you do not see eye to eye with.  That borders on arrogant.

Which brings me back to one final assault you bring on AV consultants in your post, saying that they are “A rare breed of individual that mixes expertise with arrogance resulting in higher costs to everyone.”

My response to that is a question, “How much do you charge your clients for you to tell them to use Skype anyway?”  Hmmm.

Best Regards,

Mark Coxon



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