Awhile ago I made a semi-humorous point that I was worried that people in technical fields (well, us) would end up a bit like the Adeptus Mechanicus in the Warhammer 40K universe. The Adeptus of this somewhat-over-the-top dark future story are both technicians and a religious order, secretive, at times dogmatic, and culturally stagnant. I think you can see the comparison and the concern.
It is some time later, and I wanted to repeat my observation and note . . . I think we’re closer than I thought.
It struck me one day when I was talking to some young programmers, and realized how much knowledge they needed to just be onboarded at a company. It wasn’t just knowledge or experience, there was a lot of culture, a lot of understanding about the significance of certain tools, and a lot of terminology and background. Me, this was stuff I’ve been used to since I started my IT career in 1995.
Which is a nice way of saying I was used to it until I saw an outsider’s perspective. I’d gone a bit Adeptus Mechanicus there, and I didn’t even get a miniature named after me.*
Two realizations made me think we may be further along.
First, an acquaintance mentioned how many people learned from each other, from code examples, from the work of others. He wasn’t concerned about that as a method – he was concerned about a kind of cultural inbreeding. Considering some terrible coding mistakes and technical issues that I’ve seen done again and again, I think he might have a point.
Second, I began looking at just how easy it was to use a lot of technology now. Despite many poor designs, bad software, and mediocre decisions, we’ve made it awful easy for people to access computer power. No matter how much we may complain, we have awesome things to complain about – but also we don’t have the things that spawn the curiosity that may drive someone to technology.
We’ve got more cultural inbreeding than I thought, less educational engagement, and the ease and widespread nature of technology may actually discourse some curiosity. We may be further towards the “Adetpus” scenario than I’d initially imagined.
I may enjoy giving my theory a funny nickname, but I’m not happy with the idea that we’re having cultural inbreeding among we technical types. Technology is vital to our lives and our economy, and the less we understand, the more vulnerable we are. Also the less people understand, the more geeks like us get driven crazy with technical questions.
I’d like to hear your stories that confirm or deny my fears. I’d like to see what’s coming up.
Meanwhile, keep promoting technical awareness and empowerment. It makes our society a better one, a more powerful one, a more equal one, and one where Christmas is less about us troubleshooting people’s computers.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.
* Tell me that Archmagos Steven Savage doesn’t sound AWESOME.