Thursday, August 2, 2012

We Do It For the Love Of It

When did Information Technology (IT) become such a laden word? Laden with conceptions of monolithic manned helpdesks, its operators serving every whim of every hopeless end user. Fraught with nightmares of oversized, overworked and underpaid corporate departments who have absolutely no idea what "business requirements" they are supposedly solving. Poisoned with executive types who try to sell multi-million dollar software products, but wouldn't know whether those products run on 32-bit or 64-bit OS's. Littered with sincere, hard-working yet unmotivated people, in every "specialist" area, who have absolutely no interest or desire to learn the basics of a different operating system, for example, or to understand the basic underlying fundamentals of internet architecture.

I "got into computers" (note the terminology change) because I've always liked them. Because I like playing with them. Because I like learning from them. Because I like seeing them doing things for me. And, some day, I will be fascinated by them learning things from me. Because, to me, it was always stimulating and exciting, a bicycle for the mind. And, finally, because there is still so much work to do to progress our conventional and scientific understanding of the physical, metaphysical and natural worlds.

Why Do We Do This?

Today I had an interesting discussion with two old colleagues, both testers, over lunch. The first, in his early to mid-30s is a part-time property investor in India, a man with larger ambitions than "just test automation". The other, an exceptionally talented exploratory tester, wants to head back into finance or become a partner in a large-scale production fish farm in Asia. Both could happily remain at my client for decades to come - they're perceived to be that good. Testing for a highly successful IT department for the last six years was, apparently, simply a stop-gap measure, another rung on the ladder to climb before they could move on.

Hopefully, there are a lot more people out there who are simply extremely grateful to be working in an industry where they get to do what they love. Hopefully. I have my doubts though. The perception of IT as a great career direction will muddy the waters even more.

Seeing the Bits for the Bytes

I'm not a tech purist by any account. If things turn sour, if my few and unremarkable skills are perceived as extraneous to employment opportunities at hand, if I see no other opportunities at sustaining a business for myself in computerland, I will have no reservations whatsoever to chart a course in a different industry. 

It will take some convincing though. As I said, there's still a lot of work to do. Oh, and of course, we do it for the love it

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