Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Introduction to Michael's World of IT

I'm not a professional blogger and this isn't a forum for absolute facts. Instead, I mean for this blog to present an unfiltered view of my IT philosophy and how it has and continues to evolve over time.

Why me and why now? This blog isn't some egocentric examination of self or a venue to simply expel all of my thoughts on the world (at least I don't really intend for it to be). Rather, I think that the industry takes itself way too seriously when it comes to its mission to improve business and there are too few voices out there willing to really conduct a detailed and extended analysis of whether technology really helps. Journalists are beginning to get it but few truly get IT and information security in an intelligent way. Beyond that, I've found that there is way too much FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) that drives IT decision making. I hope that I can help folks in some small way to make better decisions about their IT and security procurements.

What makes me different is that I'm a non-traditional IT guy who speaks with a foreign tongue. I'm not a computer scientist, not a coder, not a hacker, not an engineer. Oh, don't get me wrong, I certainly started in that direction, writing code for the C64, hacking BBS sites on CompuServe, and playing video games endlessly (does anyone remember Lords of Conquest?) all while listening to punk and alternative rock at all hours of the night. In fact, I ran the computer lab for my high school yearbook (including leading my first system upgrade as we migrated to a new desktop publishing environment), leading into my first consulting gig (for the University of California, Irvine yearbook staff) and an IT internship offer with our publisher. Then, I went to MIT with delusions of grandeur that I would be a leading mind at the top-ranked AI Lab.

But, funny things can happen to the grand plans of a teenager. Struggling against my peers in computing theory and electronics pushed me onto a new and less-travelled path. I migrated to the MIT Media Lab as a new Cognitive Psychology major and focused almost entirely on visual perception and object recognition. Sure, I still coded and hacked away through a summer job at UCI developing one of the first online applications for enrollment (it was awful until we started to figure out how to retain state across pages using Python scripts to develop an early form of a cookie) and a great internship with Nissan Research and Development as I developed cognition experiments for the lab's advanced driving simulator using C++, SGI Graphics Library, and Perl. I started to look at the world a bit differently.

Technology is beautiful in that it allows organizations to automate the mundane, to communicate broadly, and to develop solutions rapidly. Technology is terrible in that it fails to address the innate human vulnerability to allow sense to override logic. We need technology to do what we want it to do when we want to do it rather than to do it in the most efficient way possible. We expect it to solve all of our problems but implement it in ways to make our problems worse. Rather than assume the benefit of technology for technology's sake, I focus on where organizations can realize the most benefit to business processes and identify the most appropriate ways to fill the gaps. Success in IT integration is more nuanced than simply selecting the next great idea.

Rather than simply be a shill for the IT industry, I choose to leverage my broad expertise to focus on educating organizations, helping them see through the pitch and the hype, to better understand and develop solutions that improve their business. So, if there is going to be a point to this blog, it's to support that mission.