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7/21/2006
05:20 PM
John Soat
John Soat
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IT Confidential: 10 True Things About Technology

The unvarnished truth in 10 simple, penetrating bulleted items.

People love lists. especially people on the Internet, apparently, where a story incorporating a list will generate thousands more hits from readers than one without. Since journalism these days is all about generating Web site hits, I figured I'd better come up with a list. So I thought of a catchy, list-oriented headline, and all I had to do was generate the appropriate bulleted items. It's not the first time the catchy headline came first and the story followed (and it won't be the last). So here's my list, in no particular order, except it seems you must do the countdown thing.

10. Government regulation is not a friend to technology. This one's a bit obvious, but it bears keeping in mind. If you think Sarbanes-Oxley is a headache, wait until the privacy laws start rolling out of Washington. Soon, really soon.

9. Information technology will never not be complex. And that's not because of something inherent in software. It has to do with bureaucracy and vested organizational interests, at the vendor level, the corporate level, and the end-user level.

8. Consumer technology will drive you crazy. That's because it always will be ahead of the demand curve. Consumer technology is not about filling a need, it's about creating a demand for something (young) people didn't know they wanted.

7. Information technology will break your heart. Sounds like a country song, but it means that IT always will be behind the demand curve. IT managers can imagine more than they can implement; vendors promise more than they deliver.

6. The technology industry loves to build things up, then knock them down. Or maybe that's technology journalists. It's a cycle very common in our culture (politics, sports, Hollywood.), but nowhere is it more deeply ingrained than in the tech industry. Think neural networks. Or Scott McNealy.

5. Software wants to be free.This is an old chestnut from the hippie-geek days that Microsoft stomped on, set fire to, and pushed over a cliff. Except the open source movement recovered it and revived it, and the application services providers made it work.

4. The article "IT Doesn't Matter" doesn't matter. Also a bit obvious by now, but as an object lesson it bears remembering (see item No. 5). If your boss still brings up that article, wince painfully and make little ship sailing-motions with your hands. Then shut off his or her spam filter.

3. Consumer technology matters, but not as much as people think. Apple's products aren't nearly as innovative as they're being given credit for these days. I don't care how cool Steve Jobs is.

2. Civilians--lay people, the great technologically unwashed--mostly fear technology, because they don't understand it, they don't trust the people who run it, and they're still not convinced the technology equation will ultimately prove advantageous to them. It's called common sense for a reason.

1. Only a small, self-selecting group of people refer to technology--software code, a network router, a Web browser--as "sexy." Those are the people you want working on your IT team. As for the poker nights, basketball games, or book clubs they may--or may not--want to join in on, you're on your own.

Got any items to add to the list, or an industry tip? Send them to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326.

"The News Show" doesn't need lists--it knows how to hold an audience spellbound. Watch and see, if you dare, at noon EDT every weekday, at TheNewsShow.tv or on InformationWeek.com.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page.

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