Sunday, July 13, 2008

Getting to Know One Another

We need to get to know one another. We often talk about the “local tech community” in the abstract but aside from the group of people that we see daily as we go about our work, most of us are pretty well isolated from others around town. Fortunately we have our share of mavens—the people who seem to know everyone and do such a good job of connecting people to one another—but I believe that we'll all benefit from taking the time to get to know some others around us. Taking personal interest in the work of one another will help us to advance our community, which is to say the interests of those whose profession and geography make them a part of the “Central Ohio tech community.”

It's hard to develop personal interest in people that you don't know, especially if, like many of us, after a social function of some sort you need to go back to your office and sit by yourself and rock for a while to recover. Nevertheless, it's important for us to know other people. They can, after all, stimulate our thinking in new ways and can do much to help us to accomplish what we’ve set out to do.

Many of you know that in addition to being the founder of a tech-oriented professional services firm (at Interhack), I am an educator (Lecturer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University), and provide services pro bono to the State of Ohio’s Department of Education a la the “IT Business Advisory Network” that helps to set information technology curriculum standards throughout the state. These efforts bring me into contact with a fairly large number of people—a side-effect of my inability to spend as much time as I'd like in the lab. It seems to me that this is a good opportunity to make good use of those connections.

As I see it, the “Central Ohio tech community” is a broad one. We have the technologists who dream up and develop the new technology in the first place. These include the scientists that perform the fundamental research that leads to the breakthroughs, the engineers that work to turn those ideas into functioning, production-ready systems that can be used, and the technicians who keep things running smoothly.

To get the technology to run through its natural life-cycle, we need people who go about making the work of the technologists possible. These can be administrators of the scientific laboratories where new technology is hatched, the Founder-CEOs who turn technology (that they, perhaps, developed in the first place) into businesses that deliver the goods and services into real customers who pay for what they get. They can also be the business managers who go about getting the technology to work in the context of another business, helping it to do a better job of satisfying its customers.

With this technology being developed and used, there is an increasing demand for the technicians to run it, the engineers to deploy it, and the scientists to dream up the next generation of technology. We need to include the group of people who will help us to satisfy these demands: the educators who help to get children who present particular interest and aptitude into the programs that will help them to become productive members of our community and of society more broadly.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be publishing a series of interviews meant to stimulate thinking and discussion about what exactly we're doing and how we're going to be able to do it better. We cannot advance our community unless we know what our community is. Who are these people that I'm describing? What are their concerns? What are the opportunities that they see? How can we help them to succeed? What are they doing that can help us to succeed in our objectives? These are the questions that I hope to get us to start considering.

If you can think of other people that you think that the local tech community should get to know or want to talk about the work that you’re up to, please let me know by email. Presently, I have enough vict^H^H^Holunteers to take the series into September. If readers find the exercise worthwhile, I’ll be looking for help to keep it going. Look here every Thursday morning for an installment in the series, starting this Thursday with a discussion on the challenges in technology education from someone who has industrial experience before going into academia.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home