Monday, August 30, 2010

Some parts of the sky might be falling, eventually, or maybe not!

For most of my career, I've tried to live constructively at the interface between computing technology and less technical areas, such as business strategy and public policy.  Mostly this has meant educating the more wonkish folks from the non-technical side, but sometimes I've also spoken out in public.  I'm sure I'll continue to do both, but each time I do, I'm reminded of why most technologists probably avoid this sort of gig.

It's not that such work isn't interesting or rewarding; it often is.  But when I (or, I suspect, almost anyone) try to work simultaneously in two very different domains of knowledge and reasoning, I can't possibly do an expert job in both.  The goal is to do a passable job in both, to enable a few nuggets of information to cross a large gulf in the middle of our society's collective consciousness.

I mention this because I just published an article aimed at CIO/IT-business types, trying to alert them to some changes on the horizon for the Internet.  In my experience most IT directors -- like the general public -- tend to think of the Internet infrastructure as a done deal, a static entity.  And in fact most changes to the Internet tend to happen through growth (new protocols and applications) rather than through changes in the established infrastructure.

But sometimes the infrastructure just has to be changed, and we're about to see a major burst of such changes, so it concerns me that business IT departments are underaware and underinformed.  (Disclaimer: yes, I think the cloud model, of which I am a part, is a smallish part of the solution.)

This is dry stuff.  Getting it down to just a few paragraphs will inevitably involve oversimplification and omission.  Making those few paragraphs get the reader's attention might involve a few more.  The end result, therefore, is that what I describe is almost a caricature of what I expect to happen.   In this case, yes, I expect these things to happen, but no, I don't expect them to pop off like a string of  firecrackers, with no long tail on their deployments.  But I believe that the closer I come to making it sound like the sky is falling, the more likely my intended audience is to get my message.  Getting this kind of message across without being alarmist is not easy.

Anyway, here is the article if you want to read it.  Does it cross the line into overhype unbecoming a scientist?

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