When I see CV’s come into my company for technical jobs and that person has some form of IT degree something inside me dies. Now, I am old enough to recognise that. I have and do and will continue to employ people with IT related degrees. But just because you have a degree in some discipline of computing doesn’t mean you know jack shit that is any use to me.
The following is an example of why.
Akemi has just started a three year full time degree called ‘Internet Computing’. Let’s read the yada yada of what that actually means. From the web site:
The internet has become central to a wide range of commercial, educational, and leisure activities. As a result, the internet is used directly by a diverse collection of individuals and organisations, with different requirements and priorities. This course provides knowledge and understanding of the architecture and design of web-based systems and web development tools. it also provides skills that underpin the development and evaluation of collaborative and interactive web sites in commercial settings.
Nope, I’ve got no idea what that means. Currently she’s learning about ARM Processor architectures and Java and bash scripts and management techniques! So today she’s asking about aliases. I rarely use aliases (I don’t like having commands working on one machine that don’t work on another) so I give my stock response.
Her: I can’t get this alias to work
Me: No idea, google it
Her: Not allowed to, we must use man
I google it
Me: Do this
Her: How did you find that out?
Me: I googled it.
Her: I am not allowed to do that. I must use man
Now what sort of goddamn computing course forces you to search ‘man’ for answers whereas you can find informed, understandable, easy to read answers virtually anywhere else. man was useful for finding out information approximately never. OK, OK – you could argue that before widespread availability of the Internet, man had a part to play. But you’re wrong. I remember back in the early 90’s sitting with a hulking big professionally published and printed copy of Linux How-to’s, tutorials etc because ‘man’ was no bloody use. I think ‘man’ was named by a woman as a jibe. It has all the information you want but it’s bloody impossible to make any use of it.
Have you ever tried to get anything useful out of man? Try it.
Let us turn to our most loved bible of computing misanthropy, The UNIX- HATERS Handbook. Click here for a downloadable pdf and treasure it for ever. If you don’t laugh A LOT you’re probably dead. Anyway, back to ‘man’. What does this book that was written in 1994 have to say about ‘man’?
man was great for its time. But that time has long passed.
That was in 1994. Here we are, in 2009, and computing courses (Internet computing courses, for the love of all that is holy!) are teaching their students to use ‘man’. By the way, there’s a whole chapter in that book about documentation, it’s great.
Where was I? Oh yes, IT related degrees.
This ability of Universities to provide minimum useful information but excel in modern techniques of Arse Hattery is stupendous. Now I can’t blame the Universities completely because really, whether people have degrees or not in computing doesn’t have any effect that I can see on whether they can ‘do it’ or not. But when your teaching material is so far removed from real life (unless your goal in life is to write man pages) what is the fucking point? Teach something that is useful. In some ways these degrees are the worst things that can happen because you’re making people think they actually know something about the real world requirements of computing. I remember years ago arguing with a newly indoctrinated graduate about how to tackle a certain issue. My years of experience were no match for their shiny little degree certificate although I assume their management technique training did give them more gravitas that my rather to the point ‘fuck off’.
Now some disclaimers. I assume there are good and bad Universities, courses, lecturers etc. It is very likely that within this world medicore programmers are being educated and improved. My two favourite programmers both have degrees (although only one has an IT related one). But when I get a CV I have no idea what side of the divide you are. I can find that out by talking to you and working with you. And at that point, I really don’t care about degrees.
And no, I don’t have a degree.