This post originally appeared in the Human Infrastructure Magazine, a weekly Packet Pushers newsletter. You can get the newsletter as part of a free subscription to our membership site, Ignition.
When you’re ushered behind the curtains to witness Oz making sausage, your understanding of reality matures. In that context, I present these viewpoints as technical person with a media job eating a steady diet of Yellow Brick Road Bratwurst.
As you read how my views have changed, consider that they aren’t the only things I feel about these topics. There are always exceptions. My viewpoint is broader than the bitter nuggets I’ve encapsulated here. Mostly, I just want you to have a laugh…or a cry, as the case may be.
Enjoy the sausage.
I used to think standards served the entire IT community. Now I think standards serve vendors who can only sell to certain large customers who insist on a standard before buying.
I used to think standards bodies deliberated to find the best solution. Now I think that standard bodies craft compromises that cater to pre-existing vendor tech.
I used to think standards bodies would coordinate competing projects and rally around a single best answer. Now I think that ineffective governance and egomania turn standards bodies into a diversity of bully pulpits.
I used to think standards would drive interoperability. Now I think that we’ll never have true interoperability unless customers demand it, because standards are, by design, loosely written and subject to interpretation.
I used to think standards existed because they solved problems poignantly experienced by practitioners. Now I think that standards are often pushed to prop up egos or personal agendas.
I used to think conferences were financially neutral events created mostly for the benefit of attendees. Now I think that they are businesses emphasizing profit earned over value provided.
I used to think conferences were places to learn about technology and further your career. Now I think they are primarily marketing tools designed to stuff attendees into as many sales funnels as possible.
I used to think speaking at a large conference was an honor bestowed only upon the most worthy. Now I think conferences use sessions for profit by underpaying speakers who will drive registrations.
On Sales & Marketing
I used to think vendor webinars were useful ways to communicate technical information to curious people. Now I think they are marketing tools designed to capture leads while sharing selling points designed to “resonate.”
I used to think certifications were the best way to get ahead in an IT career. Now I think they are vendor sales tools designed to increase market share by creating an army of sycophants.
I used to think vendor whitepapers were educational documents, helping technologists make informed decisions. Now I think they are marketing hype inventing problems that match solutions conveniently on offer.
I used to think performance numbers reported in a product data sheet were meaningful. Now I think performance numbers are gamed to present the best possible scenario.
I used to think tech news reported on important announcements via careful curation. Now I think tech news is driven by ad revenue, so any PR content stuffed into inboxes gets published to generate traffic.
I used to think analyst reports and magic quadrants were useful distillations of a given technology. Now I think reports and quadrants are self-selecting based on who’s paying for the report and the parameters they defined.
I used to think companies would make decisions based on which technology served them the best. Now I think companies make decisions based on whether their boss will sign off without a lot of discussion.
I used to think RFPs were unbiased representations of an org’s technical requirements. Now I think RFPs are carefully constructed to eliminate all vendors except the ones the RFP issuer wants to do business with.
I used to think open source projects were altruistic community efforts meant for the greater good. Now I think open source projects are driven mostly by vendors to further their commercial interests.
I used to think GA software releases meant the product had been thoroughly tested. Now I think that GA releases are where real testing begins, as actual users deploy in real-world scenarios.
I used to think that vendors would lead customers with breakthroughs to help their businesses. Now I think that vendors offer barely adequate solutions to squawking customers, because vendors lack real-world insight.
I used to think that vendor support consisted of experts who existed to solve problems. Now I think that vendor support consists mostly of ticket-closing stat junkies who act as a barrier between callers and the competent support professionals at the next tier.
I think I could go on, but that’s plenty of grumpiness for this missive. If you’re feeling depressed now, get yourself a cup of coffee, and look outside for a few minutes. That bright thing in the sky is the sun! I hear it will cheer you up…if you stare into it…or something. ☀️🙌😉