Raison d’etre

Hello, World! ūüėČ

My name is Sean Konkin, and I am an information technology professional (read: IT Guy). Through 25 years of trials and tribulations (read: tests, defects and rework) I have earned the right to call myself an architect.

I was immersed in the culture of oil & gas business systems for a long time Рmost of the last 20 years, in fact Рand have recently resurfaced. I was laid off from my job as an IT Architect for a large energy company, and am taking this opportunity to look all around me, instead of straight ahead along the path of corporate strategy. The information technology landscape has changed a lot, from the viewpoint of the professional, since the last time I found myself at this sort of crossroads!

For one thing, it’s all around us. We (as workers and consumers) no longer walk to a single room in our houses or allocate a single compartment in our minds to the means of “going online”. We live online – unless we consciously and effortfully opt out. We keep a growing portion of ourselves in the so-called cloud. The Internet programs us. As professionals, we are expected somehow to stay ahead of the Internet, in terms of the risks and opportunities it presents to our employers and clients. No small feat!

Another huge shift is a function of both the development of IT and my own development as a professional: the meaning of “development” (in a systems, rather than personal or industry, sense). I got my start in the industry just at the point the title “Programmer” was giving way to “Developer” – but before the difference was anything more than aesthetic. I remember the developers’ bullpen in the first company I worked for: a darkened half-floor of cubicles stacked with empty Jolt Cola cans, occupied by¬†jeans-clad¬†Unix programmers (all male, of course). That group of “developers” was completely and intentionally different from the rest of the company and its clients. Their job function, Systems Development (really, programming) was mysterious, requiring a completely different set of skills than that of anyone else at the company¬†– and seemingly a completely different personality. IT Guys were geeks – and proud of it.

Fast-forward 20 years: I’m an “Architect”. I love to program (or “code”; it’s now a verb) – but the task is completely different and much less mysterious than it used to be. How often does a developer write a single program, in a single language, to solve a problem, anymore? Proficiency in languages is still important, as is understanding the problem¬†– but more important is the ability to see, communicate, and build a complex solution out of the various components at hand, using available tools. (I realize that’s a value statement, and certainly arguable; I’d love to elucidate and defend it; perhaps that will become part of the raison d’etre of this blog.) My main point, here, is that I now find myself in an environment¬†where programming and other highly technical, specialized skills are secondary, and to a certain extent taken “as read”; the defining essence of IT systems development proficiency is inherent in much more nebulous attributes, such as abstraction, modelling, vision, and synthesis.

I am very curious as to how¬†today’s IT landscape looks from the perspective of other “IT Guys” (inclusive of “Gals”, of course). If you’re another 40- or 50-something veteran, I’d love to commiserate! If you’re just starting out, your perspective is extremely valuable, untrammelled by the baggage we old hackers carry. If, through my posts and your comments (you’ll need to Register, at left), we can better understand and occupy our place as leaders in information technology, I’ll be most gratified.