Wouldn’t you know it? The last issue that I have coming to me before I was going to end my IEEE Computer Society membership and it had to be interesting. I’ve been reading Computer for several years now and I’ve gotten to the point where I just pass it on to some other IT schmuck without actually opening it. I don’t even look at the covers any more. The only reason that I have an associate membership in the IEEE Computer Society is for the electronic library access. Yes, I’m that type of geek. I’m not just an IT Professional: no, I have to also have extreme academic tendencies. I actually got excited about a reference to Ang and Slaughter’s materials on creativity and IT professionals.
So it came as a big surprise that:
- I actually started reading this latest issue, and
- it was actually interesting.
You need to understand that normally Computer is about as interesting as my father’s trade publications on filters. There are lots of articles on chip manufacturing and bus speeds. All fascinating for those in hardware but I do software engineering projects and, to be honest, I’m just not an engineer. Well, look at the goodies in this month’s issue:
- “The End of Science Revisited”. John Horgan, author of the very controversial book, The End of Science (1996), comes back to the topic for this article. He is still pretty pessimistic that science is going to fulfill the lofty promises of some of the science evangelists. He sees the predictions of the Artificial Intelligence camp (a pretty much dead science) and nanotechnology, plus the chaos and complexity theory folks, as simply wishful thinking by radical adherents. “Not going to happen” is his view; there are no surprises left. Still, we’ve heard this type of talk before, if you go back to the end of the 19th century. Folks back then said that all the world was now described and all we had to do was keep plugging away. Of course, the explanation of photons and the “aether” blew us all away and opened up doors that no one imagined existed. We’re probably at a similar state, which means that a thoroughly useless extermination of millions for absolutely no good reason (World War I) may be upon us soon.
- “Is Peer-to-Peer Secure Enough For Corporate Use” by George Lawton. Good review of an important problem for those of us in corporate IT security. Can we even think of allowing P2P applications inside our firewalls?
- “NASA’s Mission Reliable”, by Patrick Regan and Scott Hamilton, explains how the US’s space program is trying to reduce the number of errors that go into space. Their conclusion seems to be that you’re just going to get them, so you have to have an architecture or development environment (including language) that reduces error in the environment the end application will work in. I’d hate to see any of these measures deployed in an enterprise. The sick truth, folks, is that almost all your very important applications (trades, health care, taxation, penal system) gets tested in production.
- Fred Niederman offers a look at “IT Employment Prospects in 2004: A Mixed Bag”. He pretty much says “find a different career”. IT jobs in the US dropped from 1.6 million in 2000 to less than 1/3 of that in 2003. Ouch. No wonder I’ve had so much unemployment. Better start looking at new careers.
- Which is about what Mohan Babu says in “From Organization Man to Free Agent”. He compares an IT professional’s career to that of a lawyer. He somehow thinks that most attorneys make a lot of money outside of working for someone else. Suffice it to say that if you are thinking of a career in computers, do something else.
Lots of good stuff for the management-minded geek.
Image credit: “GPN-2000-000354 Analog Computing Machine in Fuel Systems Building Lewis Flight Propulsion Lab”. NASA image. Public domain.