Sunday, May 06, 2007

 

The Dumbing Down of IT

When I started my IT career in 1983, IT as an organizational structure was filled with 95% of folks that understood technology. Nowadays, if you find a large enterprise where 20% of folks in IT knows how to code in a modern language, you are in heaven...



Folks need to noodle the fact that just because they work in an IT organization, doesn't make them IT professionals. IT has at some level managed to grow which can be considered a success. At the same time, IT grew, so did its costs which created all sorts of disciplines such as enterprise architecture, six sigma and other things that feed on itself.

Simply put, this trend has been allowed to fester continue because dumbing down anything lets more people participate, and that's only bad if compromises have been made to limit what experts can do. For the record, we need to also appreciate the distinction between simplicity and dumbing down. Simplification is not "dumbing down." It takes very intelligent people to simplify things. It took a lot of intelligent people and time to go from manual tasks to dedicated hardware for tasks to programmable hardware to software to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation programming languages, etc. It has taken a lot of intelligent people to move computers from the realm of the scientist to where 5 year olds and grandmothers can surf the web. Simplification is hard work and we should take pride in making things simpler and not refer to it as "dumbing down."

At some level, IT has shifted the primary cognitive makeup for programming from logical reasoning to inductive reasoning. IT is also shifting away from software engineering towards configuration-oriented architectures. When you are doing object oriented programming like with C++ or Java you are studying large amounts of complex building blocks to find out the right way to use each. Because you have to wade through masses of data to understand what you are looking at, there has just been a shift in cognitive focus for programmers to inductive reasoning. I wonder if this is one of the reasons why we have a Knowledge Crisis...




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