Sunday, 12 February 2017

People : Do you Talk the Talk?

Having recently been speaking to some technical and none-technical people, both relation to staff I need, and indeed myself looking outwardly, I have come to the conclusion most people interviewing, in the technology sphere, today sadly fall into two general categories...

1. Those who talk the talk 
2. Those who don't...

What is the talk?  Well, as a general technologist I don't talk in specifics, doing so I've always found overwhelms the listening.  For example, "Network Connection"... This is perfectly sufficient to communicate to 99.9% of listeners what I mean, I can draw it on a piece of paper, make it an arrow or communicate it's meaning very simply.

However, I was asked (last week) "what so you mean by connection"... The Socket... The Client-Server connection... The handle to the I/O buffer within my application to the TCP/IP Stack on the machine?!?!?

None of my replies seemed to mollify them.  Knowing this was clearly my not using the correct form of incantation from the necronomicon of buzzwords, I asked them what they thought I meant... Their reply stunned me, a little...

"I mean the post stream packet set from after the first packet, containing the Syn flag, and the following series of packets over the TCP Pipe".

I think I actually laughed, asking them, if that's what they really meant to ask as they were testing me, or that's how they seriously expected me to express myself... They didn't have an answer to this.

"Network connection" was perfectly adequate to express the object of our mutual attention, but clearly this person had no wiggle room, no faith perhaps that they were not talking to a moron; despite their apparently having read my humble blog pages here.

So, where did this confusion come from?  I think, putting it simply, I don't want to compartmentalise technology, I don't want to say "this is the interface", "this is the control", "this is the communication" and only one person or one team be involved into that one area.  For a development team, or a single project, this can lead to almost an incestuous proclivity to sharing information with others.

Rather, I see technology as a huge ecology within which we all live and work, move a team member to other libraries, or other parts of a project now and then, if they're not confident in the graphics slowly make them a junior member of graphics, if they are a strong outward thinking communications body, let them lead communications but have them chaperone those less confident with it through the same code.  Share tools, and time and attention on one another.

This means perhaps means I don't talk "the" talk, I never jump to nuts and bolts, it's not how I want to communicate technologically, and was never how one communicated when teaching Karate, you had to build one another up to the same level of understanding, both at a personal and a working level.

So, I will never talk about the raw metal, or the raw software libraries, instead I'll talk about "building the Exchange layer", I won't talk about "the CCTalk byte code interface" I'll talk about the hardware abstraction to simplify all these calls, and give it a name, such as the namespace within the code, so those driven and interested can go take a look at it.

If you take a look around this blog you will see the hundred of posts, they do explain an awful lot of information, sometimes they contain my opinion; I think today they're more professional looking, and perhaps are for a niche audience, but they will contain a lot of technical information... They don't contain "the talk"... But over 300 people read these pages every day, and most of the feedback I receive is about how clear the tutorials are, or how clearly I've expressed something about development, which was previously hidden in layers of this "talk".

If you speak to me about technology, I will want know what you are talking about, rather than buzz words, acronyms, or specifics.  I don't know what you are working on, it could be PDF file generation from Geographic data, it could be time and attendance clocking systems, it could be automotive displays.  The unifying thing isn't the minutia, it's being able to be generic.

Is this my problem?

Well, no, this is my blog and my little corner of the internet so I can pretty much say exactly what I like... I make you welcome to talk to me in the comments below, and I'm pretty sure with the hundreds of comments and hundreds of thousands of visitors we've each understood each other.

My question then is, why do some IT related folks, when they invite you into their little corner of the planet, why do they not understand me or even one another?

They seem to jump immediately to a check list of words they desperately need, to hear, they don't listen, they don't engage, they (I'm pretty damn sure) just want to follow their script rote to complete their task.  Where as I want to speak to people who are as enabled and interested in technology as I am, without having to experience ten years working in a room with them before we synergy.

Likewise, I'd like to think presented with all these pages, knowing they were going to speak to me, that they would do me the courtesy of visiting this; my humble corner of the inter-webs; before asking me to engage in their merry dance around the knives of indifference.

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