Computer science, Information technology and why I probably can’t help you.

First, I want to be perfectly clear that this is not a diatribe directed towards anyone, or even a diatribe at all. It is an explanation, with the hope that it will help more “users” (for the lack of a better term) understand why “computer” people (again, for the lack of a better term) can get irritated by questions related to their field of work. Not all technology jobs are the same. You wouldn’t say that a miner, a steelworker, a millwright, an ironworker and a jeweler all possessed the same skill, and yet they all work with metal, right? For many of us in the tech sector, we are often expected not only to know why the game on your phone is crashing but also be proficient at playing it as well (cause your a nerd, right). Just like a steelworker and a jeweler both understand the processes of melting and moulding metals in to useable objects, there is overlap in knowledge in IT, but it is NOT the same job and probably shouldn’t even be considered the same field in many cases. As information technology is rapidly expanding into every part of our lives, the knowledge of that expanse can in no way be covered by a single individual. I work as an IT generalist (my job title is system engineer), meaning that in a given day, I might be working on a mobile phone, a server, a storage device or any one a myriad of network devices. This means that I probably don’t know what TV you should buy, what PC is best for your kid’s new game, or what boolean operator should be employed on a college programming project you are working on that’s not producing the anticipated results. That’s not to say that I couldn’t figure it out, that’s part of what I’m good at, but I probably won’t have the instant, “canned” answer you are looking for. The next time you meet someone that tells you they work with computers, please don’t immediately jump into the problem with your 401k’s website and what would I suggest they do to fix it. Instead ask, “What do you actually do in the IT field?” There are some really interesting, cool jobs out there and it’s someone’s job to do them. Take a few minutes and learn about one of the many parts of this brave new world.

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