Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 - Watching for the black swans

It's New Year's Eve and I've just picked up one of the most popular and best reviewed non-fiction books of 2007 - The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Spending a few moments reflecting on my own personal experience, it's clear that the author has twigged on to something very significant. Whether it's the rise of the World Wide Web (or to be more specific, HTML-based web pages) or Google, YouTube, Facebook or any other number of technology phenomena, nothing beforehand would have allowed an accurate prediction of their respective successes.

So, for 2008, as I finish this book and Taleb's earlier book (Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets), I resolve to imagine the unpredictable, to anticipate the unexpected, and to be prepared for surprising opportunities. Yes, I will work on planning and risk management and improving my skills and knowledge about existing technology. But I will also look for anything but the sure thing, assured that the future is located somewhere in those black holes rather in the artificial light of the office cubicle.

I don't have any predictions for 2008, no prognostications - except to say that when I look back a year from now, I don't think it will be about the release of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, or even Visual Studio 2008. Something else will almost certainly have captured the imagination of IT professionals and developers. Well, maybe, maybe not. But insofar as IT professionals are tuned to the future of information technology, it won't be the obvious stuff that makes the year outstanding. It will be something that is now barely even on the radar.

I can hardly wait.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Newbie, Oldie, Freebie

My new job is taking almost all my time these days. That's a good thing, I guess. But it's a little awkward for me having to ask so many questions about the environment, tools, procedures, policies, even names and job titles of people around me. That's to be expected, but I've operated for so many years from a position of expertise, knowledge, and the authority that brings that this kind of shift is a little bit unsettling. But that will change.

One of the things that I've noticed in the IT world is the respect for "older" IT professionals, something we were told wouldn't happen. We were told to expect that younger workers would displace everyone with "experience", but that simply hasn't happened. Sure, there are some areas towards which younger people tend to gravitate, but even then I've noticed an admiration and general respect for people still in the IT field with years of experience and the flexibility that implies.

There is absolutely nothing - not certification, not university or college training - nothing which trumps experience in depth and width.

But with a new job and new responsibilities, it's to be expected that I might back off blogging a bit. Still, when I got an offer from an excellent courseware company for a free course on blogging, I thought I'd take advantage. Simple-ology is the brainchild of Mark Joyner. I've looked at some of his material, but found that with a job search and then a new job, there simply wasn't enough spare time to do justice to his otherwise compelling courseware. But free! That's too much to ignore.

So you may just see me blogging about his free course.

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Working with other IT professionals

This week I started a new job as Implementation Consultant with Covarity, a company marketing a loans monitoring software service to financial institutions. On a personal level, it's a very exciting career change, part of which is the daily exposure to and working with other information technology professionals and developers.

Even though I've worked with teams for almost as long as I've been in the IT sector, I've not had the "luxury" of having immediate access to other IT pros and developers. True, I've been part of WWITPRO, the Waterloo Wellington Information Technology Professionals user group. But now, instead of just executive meetings and monthly public meetings to get my IT pro "fix", I can just lean over in my chair and reach several other IT professionals.

This is, thus far, an incredibly liberating experience. Because I'm part of a logical and functional team, I can now apply a laser-like focus while enjoying exposure to those with another set of responsibilities, all the while speaking the same language and having the same corporate objectives. And those other professionals, like me, come from different sectors where they have applied their considerable IT expertise. This means that casual conversations while grabbing a coffee or moving about the office often entail insights about the application of IT in areas I haven't touched before. And, I hope, the experience is mutual.

Sometimes it's just the little things that give me a jolt of excitement, such as learning a new software trick, tip, or technique in a sixty-second conversation over the baffle boards. "So, how do you do this?" - a kind of incidental, collegial learning environment. Now that I have it, I love it!

Having the aptitude and discipline to find it and fix it on your own is important. But having the resources of others who might have found it and fixed it already is oh so luxurious!