[linux-elitists] Poor skills of most IT "professionals"

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Thu Sep 25 11:42:08 PDT 2003

begin Larry M. Augustin quotation of Thu, Sep 25, 2003 at 10:20:48AM -0700:

> As I've followed the anti-spam discussion, I realize that many of the
> "sysadmins" I'm now meeting could never set up a SpamAssassin filtering
> email gateway.  It scares me, and I don't know if I should be worrying more
> about it.  Is the pool of skilled IT people being diluted?

I am not a psychologist, but it looks like many IT people are in
a state of "learned helplessness".

You don't develop skills just because you have the time and the
aptitude -- you need some motivation.  In an environment where
developer tools are packaged or licensed separately from the
production software, and interesting or buggy parts of the production
software are not available to modify, the motivation isn't there, so
the skills don't develop.

(This isn't just a free software/proprietary software thing;
you can have motivated IT people in a proprietary environment if
the customer has sufficient leverage over the vendor and the IS
department is well-managed.)

People often assume that control over one's IT environment is of
interest only to the skillful,  but it might be more productive to
see how skill develops in those who are given control or seek it.

Here's an example of learned helplessness at work:

  "Currently Save-Solaris-x86.ORG is running Solaris 7 x86 while
  AMI (now LSI Logic) corrects problems with their driver under
  Solaris 8."


  that is..
  "Currently Save-Solaris-x86.ORG wants you to know that we have a
  black eye because we fell down the stairs...that's it.  And Scott
  isn't a bad guy, he can change.  He really loves us.  And hardware
  vendors care about Solaris x86, they do, they do, they do!"

Maybe Stanford could do a controlled version of the Stanford Prison
Experiment with a disempowered IT group and an empowered IT group.

Don Marti                Reform copyright law -- return abandoned works
http://zgp.org/~dmarti   to the public domain after 50 years:
dmarti@zgp.org           http://www.PetitionOnline.com/eldred/petition.html

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