All Posts in “#FeedForward”

Stop the cliquing and let the tech speak

This is going to be one of those blogs that upsets a lot of folks but I have been thinking about it for some time. After talking to some friends and coworkers about it I decided it was something I needed to write.

The IT community feels fractured, and this isn’t anything new I suppose but it has felt far more noticeable lately. There appears to be two distinct tiers of people in the community, those that were here first and everyone who entered later. This has formed cliques, and I am not talking about the typical tribal divisions that happen as Microsoft experts or VMware experts sync up unto themselves but more of a standoffish clique like the popular kids in high school. Of course there are the cool kids who are friendly too, not everyone has airs of pretension surrounding them.

If I look at it through the lenses I wore in high school part of me wonders why I even care about this, and the other part feels left out or inferior. Haha wow I am lame. But whether or not this is just more imposters syndrome or whether the popular kids really do have a clique all their own is a question that may be a little tough to answer, and I think I have.

I joined twitter in September of 2010, when someone gave me a convincing reason why. Essentially his argument is the same one I use today, if you remember the way we used message boards and support forums you remember how long you would have to wait to get a response. Twitter is like the support forums on crack with responses and help happening within minutes or even seconds of posting your issue. I’ve found this to be true a million times over, an in turn have tried to give back to the community. But I have known that there are those who have been doing this longer and I always respected them.

You never want to measure yourself against others, yet you need to set a goal, and unless you are Elon Musk and can dream up that which does not yet exist it takes seeing what others have done to help you realize where you want to get to. So I set my goal to be a recognizable name and member of the community. I have worked on that for 5-6 years now and I’ve come to realize that I will never break into that elite group. Maybe partially through my own lack of skill or because like most townships in the Midwest, once land claims were planted the founders of a territory became the leaders and leadership became incestuous. How do you break into something that seems so tightly coupled with those that have always been around?

What I have found since I have been mulling over this sociological makeup of our little IT tribe is that I am not the only one who views it this way. There are those that like me are trying to break out and become known entities and respected names, there are those that haven’t quite started the journey but are looking at it as part of their career trajectory. What are they to do?

So this is a call, a call for the community to stop a tiered approach of community leaders. Sure there will always be those that are better at presenting, or known more but there are those of us who have less distance from our time in operations, or have different skill sets and experiences that can be shared. I urge you if you are starting out to try and get more involved and not be afraid of this cliquish behavior, and if you are a member of the old guard to help break down the barriers and promote the new folks who are trying to make a name for themselves.  As much as I can I am here to help, as Mike Laverick did with the #FeedForward campaign I am willing to help speakers with tips, and time to listen and help make their presentations better.  I urge others to help mentor this next generation of speakers, and for show and community organizers to reach out beyond just the big names, and for the community to hear the new voices.

A special thanks to Amy Lewis who helped me make sure this message was one that wouldn’t go over the top or sound like a petulant child’s whining to be included.

Advice for Young Women Interested in IT (Guest Blog by Danielle Allan)

Danielle Allan (Carroll) is a core Systems Engineer for EMC Federal Division. She began her career in IT with an internship at 17 years old, went on to major in Information Science at Christopher Newport University, then worked at Northrop Grumman and CSC before beginning her EMC career in 2010 through the Global Services Associate Program (GSAP). You can find her on twitter @DanielleAllan12 (sometimes she’s funny).

Advice for Young Women Interested in IT (Guest Blog by Danielle Allan)

As a (relatively) young woman in the IT industry I am often asked “do you have any advice for my daughter/niece/friend’s daughter/etc. who is interested in going to school for/a career in technology?” This particular industry can be daunting to a young woman as it is typically male-dominated. Once you’re in it, though, it really isn’t all that scary and is actually pretty accepting.

My best piece of advice would be: just go for it! If you have an interest in, and passion for, technology you will fit right in no matter who you are.

The biggest issues I hear are that: 1) young women don’t feel that they fit in to the IT nerd spectrum, nor do they want to; and 2) it’s hard to break into the “old boys club.”

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the IT industry grew up (or even spent any time at all) chugging Mountain Dew and eating Doritos in his or her parents’ basement while hosting LAN parties and hacking into things.

The “nerd” or “geek” stereotype is not something that you have to conform to in order to be successful. Sure, a lot of us are nerds. My twitter bio proudly proclaims that there’s “no shame in my nerd game,” but that’s because I choose to identify with that part of my personality. I’m also a sorority alumna who plays sports in my free time and has never attempted to hack into anything.

Every industry has its own version of geekdom: when all is said and done, a “geek” is just someone who is really passionate about what they do. The “nerd spectrum” can be expanded, bent, and changed. Challenge it. Defy it. Make it your own.

How to save a billion dollars tomorrow…(Guest Blog by Eugene St.Clair)

GeneMy first guest blogger is a long time friend, Eugene St.Clair is CEO at Humanproof, a Human Factors Engineering consulting firm headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. He has 14 years of experience supporting the FAA, Navy, Homeland Security, and other government and commercial clients and strives to bring Human Factors Engineering and Usability testing to air traffic control, information management systems, and other large-scale systems such as ships, healthcare, and energy production. Using the disciplines of Human Systems Integration (HSI), Gene and Humanproof help to reduce total system lifecycle cost, human error, and improve total system performance and safety by addressing the needs of each user in the context of the task, system, and operational environment.

How to save a billion dollars tomorrow…

I will start by saying that I recognize there is no ONE right way to do anything. With that said, I also won’t hesitate to say that my way is better than yours. In all seriousness though, each method has its pros and cons and I offer up only a suggestion that may augment our capabilities, speed product development, increase user satisfaction and user adoption, and ultimately advance the progress of the human race.

I have heard much about development processes such as waterfall, scrum, spiral development, sprints, etc etc etc. I have heard much from software developers about how modules and tasks can be split up and built and basically after very few meetings and little understanding of the real requirements of the end product, everyone runs off and starts coding, building, and trying to figure it all out. This method is then mitigated by more frequent meetings and increased communication among the team.