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During a talk called "Rethinking Best Practices in Java EE 6" at JavaOne 2011, speaker Adam Bien showed a slide titled "Explain to an alien" (i.e. explain your project to someone who doesn't understand any of the context). He said "My first version of this was 'Explain it to a woman' but I got lots of criticism at the conferences (big laugh from the audience) and one talk was almost cancelled.. (more laughing) So I think “Explain it to an alien" is better.”
A female audience member asked him in the Q&A to apologize for the joke, and he did, and added "I was thinking of people who are not programmers... My wife is a designer and a not a developer. Therefore she is unbiased and perfectly capable for evaluation of overengineering and cargo cult programming." In person and on Google+, male audience members complained to the woman who asked for the apology that she should "relax" and had made them "supremely uncomfortable."
- Adam Bien pretends the joke was not sexist on Twitter
- Google+ exchange with members of the audience
- Link to Parleys.com which has recording of this Rethinking Best Practices in Java EE 6 talk - timestamp about 2:45, direct link http://www.parleys.com/#st=5&id=2661&sl=2
- Link to Adam Bien's blog post: Explain It To An Alien