Now that the new year’s resolutions frenzy has worn off, I thought it would be nice to share what I think are the most important habits to unlearn and learn are in 2016. And of course this is purely based on my perspective, so there is no way any can claim I am wrong.
Stop reading/start studying and become a pundit
I can list down all the network and systems administrators, web developers, database administrators and security experts that I personally know that will only pick a book and read up on a topic when they have an interview coming up or when they hit a snag in their jobs and would like to find a shortcut. This is not only counter-productive in the long run, it is also a sign or laziness. There are no shortcuts to excellence, and I would like to believe the many “experts” whose how-to articles we read and religiously follow are everyday people like you and me that believe in pushing their limits.
We are slowly becoming a collaborative society where technologies are largely influenced by user experiences. Those that have pushed themselves to become subject matter expects are better positioned to share their expertise. So it is no longer a matter of whether your job requires you to know more, or whether the tech industry in Zambia has the need for the added expertize, it’s more of the world, about transforming the tools we use every day in a big way. So the next time you want to learn about say, SNMP, don’t just think about what information you need to get by, think about what frustrates you about SNMP and how you could change that. Every standard we know of today is built on that very premise
Stop reading titles/Read the entirety of a piece and add your voice
So ICTZM or Techtrends publishes a great but long piece on an emerging technology that gets your attention, instead of reading it to the end, you skim through, make an assumption and hit “like”. To me that means a lot of things “my piece was so perfect, you had nothing to add”, “my piece was so complex, you couldn’t wrap your head around it” OR “you actually didn’t read it”. I make it a point to read the things I browse to the end AND add a comment on my thoughts, or any questions I have, especially when it comes to blog posts. Technology is about practicality, it’s about finding better and faster ways of delivering solutions. You cannot learnt that from the shadows, while blindly following the masses. You have to be out there question things, adding your knowledge and experience to help refine technology as we know it. Think about how much my content will improve the more you challenge me? BUT, even more importantly, think about how your knowledge of the subjects you challenge will improve?
Stop being political/Become objective
Visiting any of the Zambian news sites, it becomes apparent that there is a trend among Zambians to blurt out unsubstantiated opinions and insults to protest the quality or bias of a news item or even when challenged by a fellow reader. BUT, tech is different. We are surrounded by a wealth of reason. Use it. If iOS is a better platform to develop an App for than Android, state your reason. If Linux is more secure than Windows Server, again, state your reason. And in all honesty, unless you’re saying that a 10Mbps link is faster than a 1Gbps link, there is no wrong answer, just a difference in opinion. And quite often, it is this intellectual conflict that helps us rethink our defence. I love Google Chrome, it’s the fastest browser out there, and I know that because after I was challenged to prove that, I actually sat down and ran benchmark tests on it, IE, FF and Safari to see how well they handles HTML5, JS, DB queries, graphics rendering etc, and while Chrome didn’t come up on top in all the tests, it did excel by a long shot in most of the tests. But, without someone to push my knowledge to the limit, I would have been content with the article I read years ago
Another unfortunate side to this story is the arrogance that many of us bring to the table. Yes you have a BSc, and yes you have a job that pays well, and yes you have you CCNP certification, and we can all see that you’re doing well. Without hearing what you have to say, why should your opinion matter more than a guy or girl that’s struggling to make it through a certificate at NIPA? Society dictates that you’re better in so many ways, and objectively, you could be, but when it comes to sharing knowledge and collaborating, why should that matter?
Stop Pirating/Start innovating
This one really ties into becoming a subject matter expert. There’s this tendency to have pirated versions of Microsoft, Adobe, or VMWare software, and I get it, those applications and operating systems are expensive, but each and every one of them has an alternative out there, that has been around for decades and has evolved into a feature rich and stable solution. When I first got into IT, Linux GUIs were a joke, software drivers were scarce, and other than programming and enterprise sysadmin tools, there was nothing there for everyday use. Today that is different, if you want graphics editing on Linux, there’s GIMP, Inkspace, Pinta, etc. If you want word processing, there is Open Office and Libre. Let’s not even talk about sysadmin tools and the list goes all. What’s quite impressive about the free and open source world is the fact that source files are open and freely available. If you picked up a copy of SuSE linux and didn’t like something about the way it handles multicast traffic, you could change it or find someone that has. Who knows, the next release could integrate your changes and you’d eased your way into the world of Innovators
Anyone can learn how to develop apps, design networks or even configure servers, BUT attitudes take time to nurture.