So, I guess I work in IT support. Lately I’ve been thinking about this field. When I first started really doing IT, I formed a company with a friend and we basically helped people to do things that were simple to us, but far beyond the person we were helping’s capacity. Some of these things involved closing a printer cover when the computer prompted the confusing error message “Printer cover open.”
That gets old quickly.
So, moving up in the IT world, you move away from helping people who can’t do anything, to helping people who can do some things. We help people who don’t have the time or the experience to troubleshoot problems quickly. You’re like the painter. Sure, you could paint your own house, but that would take forever, and you probably wouldn’t do as good of a job, so you hire the painter to come and help you out.
Depending on the context, that can get old quickly too.
So we move up once again in the IT world. Now, you’re working on new things- helping figure out how to deploy new technology and convince people that the new thing is better than the old thing. This gets much more interesting. Once you get to this point in a journey along the IT path, you realize that no new technolgoy is worthwhile unless people not only can use it, but also be convinced to use it and like it.
When you are first a technology fiend, you go after everything. You say “Wow, look, I can connect this to that and use my cell phone to control my stereo from another country!” But this demonstration of what technology can do does not reflect what technology should do. This extends beyond simple usability to both convenience for the end user to adopt, and ease of maintenance. Sure, you can get something to work once, but can you do multiple times in multiple situations? Probably, but do you want to?
This I think is the real crux of Information Technology: it’s not about doing everything that is possible, but moreso about doing everything that is helpful. I feel like this idea is often lost, especially among IT professionals. We are paid to paint your house, and think about what paints might help your wood keep its finish longer, not just to patch up the flakey spots and throw on a coat of the next trendy superpaint.
The next time you see me remote controlling my computer with my phone, remember: I’m a geek, and you don’t need that crap. It will come to you when it’s ready for you.