Charles Pillsbury III

Geek. Dad. Writer?

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Are you Google or Wikipedia?

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I’m sure this isn’t a new analogy (but because I want to write it I won’t Google it to see exactly how unoriginal it is), but when talking to my wife about my career as a software developer, the day job, I described myself as a Google developer and not a Wikipedia one.

A large percentage of the people I’ve worked with in IT (be they in development, or system administration, or whatever) have had a degree in IT and are what I’m referring to as Wikipedia developers. They are people who have a set of knowledge and apply it to their problem (generally quite effectively).

I described myself as a Google developer because I don’t have the degree, and while I have a fair bit of knowledge, I don’t have a set of any given language which I “speak” fluently to solve a problem. What I have is enough knowledge of the various ways a problem might be solved, and a baseline understanding of how to find out how to utilize a given technology to solve the problem. I’m also a pretty good problem solver.

Wikipedia is a large pile of knowledge which can be used. Google is access to a much larger pile of knowledge, but you’ve got to work a bit harder to use it, and it’s a different skill set being able to find it. I think I’m Google (though I’ve also answered to “vast repository of useless knowledge” as well… so maybe the analogy breaks down… they all do don’t they?)

I think this means two things for me professionally.

A) my resume doesn’t look as good as I’d like it. I can’t say “I’m an X developer” and get a job doing that. Once I’m in a job (as I am now, and have done in the past) I tend to be able to prove myself useful because even though I’m not the star player on a team, I can be the super-sub utility guy who can help solve a lot of different problems.

B) I’m not as fast in solving any given problem because each time I’m faced with an issue I have to work out some random syntax issue to get a given technology to do what I want. But in the end I can usually solve the problem.

Ideally I’d like to be both; fluent in a language or three, without losing the ability to search out information as needed. I’ve known a few of those IT people as well.


Written by cpillsbury

April 30th, 2010 at 9:53 am

Posted in Blog Entry

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