Languid Conversations Among the Enlightened

I’ve come to the conclusion that IT people are always endangered. Their demise is perennially imminent, and it’s always because they’re simply too stuck in their ways, and too stupid and/or lazy to let go of the tried and true, and embrace the virtues of cross-disciplinary collaboration and training.

Here’s an example the relatively traditional version, in which a vendor tells its own core audience that they’re doomed if they don’t buy the latest thing from said vendor. In fact, we’ve got two FUD vectors conflated in this particular sample:

1)      Automation is going to take away your job (even though “our customers are telling us they need automation”).

2)      SDN is going to eliminate everything about how networks are currently operated and force anyone who wants to touch a network to become a programmer.

There’s a particularly tedious corollary to the threat of new technologies, one which comes up in virtually every discussion about emerging technologies.

“What’s really needed is culture change,” someone will observe thoughtfully. Others nod sagely, someone else adds a comment about eliminating silos, and then everyone settles back in their armchairs and sips their port, satisfied that the path to nirvana has been identified and they and their fellow bodhisattvas need only help those mindlessly caught up in the toil of everyday IT existence to finally see. Never mind that the deep expertise that results from specialization is prized because it is both useful and also hard to attain and therefore rare.

ImageFellows of the Institute of Astute Observations

Now there arises a new form, described here (be sure to read the comments to appreciate the myriad forms this takes). In this version, you pump up your own core audience at the expense of their peers, who are too slow/stupid/lazy to do anything the way you need it done when you need it done.  Never mind that members of that audience might in fact get along just fine with their peers, and that those peers could be allies and advocates for the New Thing you’re proposing, assuming they can see how it might make their own lives easier.

So why do we find certain IT vendor executives simultaneously extolling the benefits of their own technology while attempting to generate fear that the very same technology will eliminate the jobs of the people who actually work with or could recommend purchase of their wares?

Because it makes for eye-catching headlines.

Why do individuals from SDN startups and established vendors alike swear that network administration as we know it will never be the same, and all admins must adapt or die?

Because the startups get their funding and awareness-building by seeming as disruptive as possible.

And because some at established vendors want to seem controversial and thought-leadery, so as not to get left behind in the race for ink.

What benefit do these people derive from publicly asserting that the majority of their customers and/or potential allies are too stupid and plodding to learn what they need to learn to do their jobs as the need arises?

Ah, there’s a koan indeed.

P.S. Here’s a hint.

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