For many of us, the journey to working in IT has been guided by a love of technology. Some people dig routers and interconnecting big LANs, others get jazzed by application development or wireless technology. Then there are those like myself, with wide-ranging interests and multiple specialties that we are happiest working in. I personally lay claim to the best jobs in the world, (prime wireless functionary for a large university, adjunct faculty member, and professional writer), but technology is only half the story.
It’s the people that make working in technology great. The people I work for and with (a wonderful team), the students I meet in the classroom or on projects I advise on, the customers I serve as a networker, or the wide range of technology-focused people I have the pleasure of interfacing with as a free-lance media type.
Take Jeff Pulver, whose technology journey could be the subject of a kick-ass graduate class. Jeff is a VoIP pioneer and multi-dimensioned technologist, and you have to catch one of his #140 “State of Now” conferences if you have the chance. Jeff lives at the intersection of Technology Road and Human Street, and how he sees the world and social media- enabled by technology- is awesome. I saw his event in Syracuse, and recommend it.
Then there are the young men and women that I run across at a vendor’s site or on LinkedIn that were once students of mine or involved with projects that I also touched. The smiles and the words spoken not only say “it’s good to see you again” but they also convey an unspoken pride that sends the clear message: “I MADE IT! I’m sitting at the same big table that you are! How do you like me now?” It’s great running into people in this group, and is wild just to watch the IT talent pool refresh itself with each graduating class.
Then there are the customers. Like clients that curse you because “the network sucks” that become your friends and allies when you solve whatever it was that they had going on with their device that made it feel like the network sucked. Or the sales engineer that you beat up for licensing costs or some such, but also can’t wait to hear how his kids are doing with some cool thing they are involved with. And the vendors– especially the ones that employ experts that not only shape technology, but that don’t mind sharing what they know about their realms, for the greater good.
And folks like Stephen Foskett, an accomplished tech professional in his own right, who also runs the Tech Field Day events with his army of “delegates”. I’m proud to be counted as part of this family, as Foskett has a way of assembling people that are both incredibly technically-minded, but also an absolute blast just to be around. To become one of Foskett’s delegates is to meet the kind of people that become “old friends” in a matter of hours, and to gain inside access to industry giants that many geeks would give their right arms for.
In my tech world, there is my editor at Network Computing Magazine, Andrew Conry-Murray. Drew is one of those rare editors that is good at what he does (like taking my stuff and polishing it up nicely before publication or making me work at being a better writer), but he also has his own IT experiences and perspectives and frequently makes compelling cases out of them in his articles. And he’s a darn nice guy, to boot.
I’m sure you have your list of people that come to mind, those that really make whatever it is that you do in IT enjoyable even beyond just getting your hands dirty with the latest gear. The folks I mention are by far not the end the story for me, but just examples of those that take work that I already enjoy and really make it a pleasure. I can’t end this piece without mentioning the power of social media in this regard. I have found that higher ed tech discussion lists, Twitter (mostly) and other social media frameworks have provided access to the absolute most incredible mix of experts, fellow users, smart-asses, knowledge-seekers, and sharers on all topics (sometimes all rolled into one). You know who you are, and I thank you for the running value you bring to my own body of knowledge as well as the frequent smiles you provide. Not everybody can swiftly adapt the conversation from lofty topics like antenna technology and modulation to bacon and silly slogans, but these groups can. And I’m glad for it.
It’s the people that make technology work fun.