Sunday, August 1, 2010

Are you serious?!

It never ceases to amaze me how seriously people will take themselves - and each other. I suppose this problem, er, issue, is most prevalent among those who we assume should be taking themselves, and the world at large, seriously; namely the politicians. Yet to hear them talk endlessly about how wonderful they are and how much they care about themselves, er, their communities and constituents, I am often reminded of young children in kindergarten who talk endlessly over each other paying no attention to what anyone else is saying - creating a cacophony that is unintelligible to anyone who may be trying to listen.

I feel rather certain that most of them could not cogently explain in plain simple language the variety of issues that their attempted legislation attempts to solve at any given point in time - let alone their proposed solutions. But they become oh-so-very serious as soon as someone begins to question their premises on a given subject. They will happily (if not so coherently) pontificate for hours on the potential impact of a given event without saying anything of actual substance that will make any sense to their intended viewers. Instead, the viewers will see the men and women in nice suits and well-coiffed hair using big words (that they probably could not spell if challenged) to make themselves sound far more intelligent than they may actually be.

Yet the most intelligent people that I have come across in my life are those who are the least self-conscious about it - and certainly the least willing to show it. A good doctor is one who can explain to their patients the illness that they may have and what needs to be done to heal it without the patient not remembering anything said ten minutes after they have left the office. A good developer is one who can not only write the programs that accomplish what is needed to get it done but then explain to the casual user exactly what the program does in a language that does not require a binary decoder so that said user can actually use it as its intended. A good teacher is one who can speak to their students in a fashion that the students can actually understand while still enabling them to function at a level higher than that in which the lesson was explained.

As for me, I harbor very little illusions about how seriously to take myself. I understand technology enough to perform my job but not enough to necessarily grasp the higher-level concepts to abstract out some of the more serious applications, let alone explain them to a lower-level developer to a level that would be commensurate with their own knowledge level. My most significant ability is that to learn new things but, come on, how seriously do we take life-long students?

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