Humans define themselves and reinforce their idea on how to be human by mimicing and reflecting those around them to a greater or lesser extent. Some societies are very conformist, some less so. We all live in a network of different groupings and define ourselves within those communities by our actions within those communities.
One interesting thing about working in IT is the complete mess of personality disorders that seem to exist and be tolerated. "Because we're geeks". Bill Gates is famous for not washing much before he got married. Ballmer by his alleged chair-wielding antics (How many chairs died when Google announced the Chrome OS?), Ellison by his alleged agression, and so foth. All billionaires for one reason or another.
Compare and contrast with more conventional businessmen. Warren Buffet for instance, describes his exciting investments in shows and floor covering companies. Even the more bizarre airline-owning bearded jumper wearing billionaire - Branson - has only marginally interesting building scaling antics and an irritating smile to talk about.
What this means is that if you have a background in hardcore IT, you can put up with freaks beyond normal comprehension. I for instance was briefly (and painfully) a board member of an industry pressure group. And a bigger collection of personality disorders cannot be crammed into a smaller place. You'd have to liquidise the entire contents of an asylum and strain it through your underpants to even come close. Dont get me wrong - not EVERYONE in that particular are fruitcakes. Some extremely nice, sane, intelligent people are members, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. I'll leave it to your imagination which are which.
Which rather underlines my point that most folks in IT should be in IT because otherwise they'd be in a straightjacket, drooling, and counting fairies passing by their hospital window. (Some folks do this and are STILL in IT)
Other professions even pride themselves on their boring outlook. One book I've been dying to buy on Amazon is the fabled 'Anacedotes of the Great Accountants, volume 42'. At one point, the yellow pages in Edinburgh had the entry 'Boring: See Civil Engineers'. I'd rather gnaw my own arm off than spend a lot of time in the company of more than one lawyer. Dont even get me started on folks with MBA's and golf obsessions. Engineers pride themselves in being able to do anything, but still are human beings, albeit with no dress sense.
Outside of IT, other similarly intellectual creative people dont get utterly bent out of shape over the least little thing. They express themselves out of their field by buying motorbikes (engineers tend to buy bikes that go fast. Accountants buy shiny ones that allow them to wear leather tassels. Each to our own, I guess). And at dinner parties (or in my case, all night barbeques), folks entertain themselves by telling amusing stories, or by discussing topics of the day. Sport, for instance. Did anyone in IT actually notice that a Scotsman was in the semi-finals of wimbledon this year? Isnt that amazing ? Andy Murray overcame his basic Scottish lack of sportiness by being damn good at Tennis. Sir Chris Hoy avoided eating deep fried mars bars all his life to win five gold medals at the olympics. Isnt that INCREDIBLE.
What I'm trying to get at is this: Why on earth do we think that obnoxious, overbearing, ADD/OCD prone prolonged navel-gazing, hallitosis, hair from the sixties and fashions from Wal-mart will raise our esteem in the eyes of fellow human beings ? IT folks - deeply obsessed IT folks - need to understand, as I'm beginning to - that the ability to communicate, to confirm, to be 'normal', might actually be more important than the ability to create crap application that everyone hates (or create crap infrastructures with the reliability of a non-medicated OCD geek on acid). Witty observations on current affairs or fashion endear oneself more to non-IT colleages than an indepth discourse on the differences in Java versions. Believe me, I've tried both.
Why dont we get a life ? Why dont we switch off the damn computer, crackberry, iPhones. Buy a motorbike. Get a tattoo. Learn a life skill, such as washing frequently, go clubbing, go to Glasto, or talking to members of the opposite sex. Or the same sex. Whatever sex turns you on.
This week, the little yellow bubble - this obsessive little corner of cyberspace where folks who thinks that 'Lotus' means 'little known offshoot of IBM' as opposed to 'Car' or worse still 'Toilet Roll' - was torn asunder by the news that someone who first set up OpenNtf (a website where folks can publish open source software to each other) was in fact leaving again. Why, no-one knew. But it caused a stir. The interweb pipes were awash with allegation and counter allegation, attack-kitten mewlings and the like. Vowe did a grand job of jabbing the pointy stick of direct questions right into the newly opened wound - as any good journalist should.
Take a step back. Did anyone die ? Does it matter ? Its a shame, but try explaining it to your spouse. Before you've even finished the first four-thousand word Attack Kitten Defense Manifesto (I've received a few over my time and they're highly soporific examples of narcarcisstic obsession. One day I'll trawl through my 15gb of mail archives and publish the funniest), anyone in the real world will roll their eyes, pat you on the head, and remind you to put the money in the bank again this month. 'Shut up, keep earning and dont wander in the garden naked, you freak' is what they're saying.
Seeing a pattern here? Does anyone give a damn ? I dont really, aside from the sheer amusement in the discomfort of various people who should get a life. Childish, I know, but it does amuse. Mature ? Hell, no.
So this week, stick this in your GTD, or your iPhone To-do-list, or in your crackberry planner, or your notes to-do-list. GET A LIFE.
I'm doing this to myself now, and its a lot of fun. People wonder why I'm not blogging quite as much, nor as visible at conferences, nor publically speaking anymore. It could be because I cant afford it anymore - the life of a BP is entirely dependant on the product that his product works on and since IBM doesnt market, the Notes market is shrinking fast - or because quite frankly I'm doing slightly more interesting things elsewhere that either I cant talk about, or dont want to broadcast from here.
I'm not ignoring you. I'm just doing less OCD. And I'm enjoying every moment of it. I suggest you all do the same. Its fun.