Print Story More stuff I need to know.
Diary
By technician (Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 01:02:36 PM EST) (all tags)
And maybe reminding me will work.


Was it User Illusion? I think it was User Illusion that had the explanation about the value of information being the lack of it? For instance, the real value of this sentence is the information that it does not contain; the words I choose to supply meaning in what could be a meaningless dlk;foidshv;ljnew;voiuhev;ljnwq;eljnewv.

That's a weak example, but it helps me to sort out why I hate Twitter, iPhones, Facebook, the telephone, cable television, and everything else that is beaming constant content into the stream.  Finding meaning...throwing out data...is way more difficult when the bucket you're equipped with remains the same size in spite of the flood.  I have to work way harder to ignore the bits that just don't matter.  This forces me to throw out bits that might only matter if decoded properly (ie emotional content carried over the course of several unrelated posts).

It means, really, that as savvy as I feel I am at this whole communication thing, I'm actually quite bad at it, and I'm getting worse.  The 140 word twitter limit.  Texting while driving. The impulse to react with announcements about every aspect of a given day.  I have poor impulse control, and it is worse when I am under a certain level of stress.  I get distracted easily.  I tend to obsess.

All of this leads to a serious problem with the increased volume in data flow that comes from sources who lack experience in the ways and means of existence online.  Here's a good example: my father is on Facebook.  Why is my father on Facebook?  Same reason everyone else is, same reason everyone started smoking: it was cool and you felt maybe you were missing something if you didn't do it.  My father is not a technophile.  He has a Mac, purchased to avoid the myriad issues presented every week by Windows PCs.  He has DSL.  He's not culturally blind, nor is he technically inept...he knows his way around.  Facebook is where everyone else is, so why not?

Problem is, he hasn't been doing this for a very long time, this online interaction.  I take for granted that people who participate have some level of experience...not with the software, but with the way information works.  In my line of work, I spend 14 hours a day or so plugged into something that provides me with raw and filtered data.  I have a level of experience with this.  I know how to, for lack of a better term, finesse my way from one map to the next without fucking people up.  In other words, I know what bits to throw away, matching a template of sorts to the thinking I anticipate my audience will engage in.  My father doesn't have a brain formed by thirty years of electronic communications.  He treats the data like a letter or a phone call: a larger conversation that is expected to be followed. His mind is the result of books, newspapers, network television, and oral history.

My brain is one of transition from "slow" information (heavily filtered, less readily available) to the flood.  My nephew, as a for instance, grew up in the flood.  The ability to sort information and throw out the unimportant bits is as natural to him as the Dewey Decimal system is to me.  His conversations are short, to the point, like road signs.  Concise.  Few vowels.

As an IT professional, I have to be able to bridge the gap, professionally, between the classes of people who use data.  Between the slow data consumers and the flood babies.  I have to be agile enough to translate a fairly complex set of bits, model the audience, and apply the template that my best guess hands me for that person. The best way to explain what I do is, I am a translator. 

I once heard a lawyer speak to a state bar association meeting.  He'd been awarded some sort of old lawyer award, and he was speaking in acceptance of the award.  He explained that the job of a lawyer is twofold: translator and lubricant for society.  He compared being a lawyer to being a ball bearing.  This drew a lot of groans from the audience, and was a story re-told laughingly many, many times.

It makes perfect sense, though, for both lawyers and technicians.  My primary job is to translate a problem, then apply a solution.  That last bit doesn't really matter if the solution cannot be translated to fit the user's expectation ("well, to really fix this, stop using it"), so I spend a lot of time throwing out information, finding the right story to tell, and applying that story.  The rest of it is how nicely, quickly, and properly I can apply that story.

The actual mechanics of the job are way, way to complex to speak to as a whole, but ideally a technician is a high-speed sorting engine with conscious objection capability.
< Cycling again | Made a mess >
More stuff I need to know. | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden)
sorting is good by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 02:45:28 PM EST
there's also being the fallguy when developers screw up.

Sorry, bitter, unless I get a fix in 2 hours for a problem I escalated in May, I'm going to get dinged.


Didn't Stacky by FlightTest (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:23:44 PM EST
get a trouble ticket she opened assigned to her?


[ Parent ]
lots of things by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:25:39 PM EST
in my head about being cool, the cost of free information, and telling stories. I can't elaborate further now because lately I am distrustful of my sense of narrative.

If you haven't read this story, it may make you laugh and cry, quietly, in about equal measure.

--
"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

Ooops. by technician (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 11:01:01 PM EST
But basically: yes.  That article, I read it on MeFi...I think that's where I saw it linked from.

And yeah, I can't believe how damn old I feel sometimes.  Can't really believe I'm still alive.


[ Parent ]
BLAH, BLAH, DRINK AGAIN AMMONIACAL, BLAH, BLAH by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 02:24:42 AM EST
Sorry dude, that's all I could pull from the wreckage which was that narrative.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

That's fine, by technician (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 09:11:18 AM EST
since it isn't intended for you.


[ Parent ]
most services by bobdole (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 06:25:21 AM EST
that deal with the unwashed masses has the translation issues. Most professions bridge the gap between their professional sociolect and techincal terms and what "normal people" talk about. Physicians have to take the subjective opinions of their patients and extract the objective medical issues that might (or might not) be behind them. A carpenter has to take what ever crazy fangled idea an architect (or even non-architect) has and mold into 2x4s, nails, plaster and screws. The list goes on and on. Being service-minded is often to some degree just being good at covering up the specifics of the trade and being good at extracting what people actually want from you and communicate that back in a normal lingo...

-- The revolution will not be televised.
it took me a long time by garlic (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 09:36:03 AM EST
to figure out the right way to tell people what I do -- I design computer chips. But that's not really what I do at all, it's what people will understand about what I do. But the communication aspect is key.


[ Parent ]
My favourite and current answer by bobdole (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 09:52:45 AM EST
when quizzed what I do: "I'm a researcher". A frightening large number of people accept it at face value and don't really ask what I research or what "being a researcher" actually entails.

On the other hand, I don't bore people who are polite with a long tale about my research.

-- The revolution will not be televised.
[ Parent ]
More stuff I need to know. | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden)