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Don Burleson Blog 








Is Oracle an “Art”, a “Science” or a “Craft”?

There is a debate in the Oracle community about whether Oracle is a science, a craft, or an art.  Chris Lawson, author of the bestselling “Art and Science of Oracle Performance Tuning” book, gives his opinion on the “art” vs. “science” issue:
"Probably the easiest way to enhance your credibility is to write articles for technical journals.
Besides the local user groups, they are numerous technical journals that are happy to review submissions-even from unknown writers."

Oracle as a Science

Here, I note my personal opinions of what constitutes a credible technical reference on the web and why it's important to disregard anyone who will not reveal their qualifications and background.
Others disagree on the pragmatic value of the Oracle scientific movement, as this ex-Oak Table member notes:

"The scientific minutiae, however "true" they might be, would merely confuse; the bold, sweeping statement, however simplistic, will nevertheless explain, despite the bold, sweeping statement not being technically accurate.
I simplify like that every time I'm in the training room, and most times I post to c.d.o.s: but it is clearly incompatible with the pure science of Oracle espoused by the Oak Table.
There is also a danger that one gets so addicted to that sort of science that one forgets that it is, of itself, of practical relevance to a miniscule number of people"

Oracle as a Craft

Not everyone agrees that it's valuable to have a college degree in computer science or Information Technology to be an effective Oracle professional. In this blog, Doug Burns notes his argument that Oracle is a “craft” more than a science:

"So here are a few opinions before I shut up

1) Mr. Don Burleson, you
talk rubbish. I have a very basic high school education but left pretty quickly to play around with computers and taught myself. I've lost count of the number of degree-educated colleagues who I wouldn't allow near a database. This is a craft, so I'll be judged by the quality of my work and not pieces of unrelated paper. I'm surprised you didn't check out my qualifications before including someone else’s comments on my work on your website. People need to be careful getting their information on the web - the author might not have a degree!

2) The Oak Table Network. I had high hopes in the past, but when I was at the recent UK OUG conference I attended a couple of Q&As and the like and the participants sounded as self-serving and unscientific of opinion as the people they profess to challenge. I'd like to specifically exclude Jonathan Lewis from this criticism. If there's a true Oracle scientist I've come across, he's it, and Cary Millsap too.

3) Oh dear ... then I buy Cary's Optimizing Oracle Performance book and I was really excited about that. Loved loads of the content too but there is absolutely no chance I'll ever read it all because I found it too hard to get past page after page of 'you've been doing it wrong all these years, here's how to do it right'. Then telling me how to do what I've known for some time. It's this setting up of knowledge as some kind of rare genius that used to put me off a lot of Oracle professionals. When I read the introduction to this book, I wasn't sure whether it was going to be about Oracle Performance or explain how to solve world famine. The problem is that everyone seems to be at it now!

4) And have you ever read any of those Oracle Press TUSC books? Unbelievable! I'm planning on declaring myself the world's foremost expert on SQL*Plus at some point in the future just so I can get my name on the cover of a book."


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