Everyone else is doing it (but I can’t)

5 fictional characters with the same profession as me:

I don’t even know *one*.

My job falls between so many bloody stools it’s ridiculous. I’m not an “IT guy” like you’d find in most offices. I’m not a programmer, as is normally understood – all the applications I develop are web based, and rope together a grab bag of technologies. I am not a designer. I am not a user experience consultant or a systems analyst, or a database architect. It sometimes annoys me, because I know there a lot of people out there that don’t take my profession seriously, from the “proper” programmers that look at me funny when I explain that frankly, I have only the vaguest idea what a pointer is (no, please don’t explain) or the DBA’s that assume that because I’d prefer to work in Postgres or MySQL, rather than Oracle, I musn’t be doing anything serious, to the normal people who file me under “web nerd” and do not accord the same level of respect that they would someone with most of a decade’s experience as a lawyer or doctor or or teacher or accountant (and yes, obviously, other IT professionals get that end of the stick, too) it is, from time to time, a little frustrating.

Like I said the other week – the single best definition of what I do is this: I build tools to help people communicate (some of the things they use them for, I like better than others, but ultimately, that’s what I do). I’ve been doing this, in one form or another for the better part of ten years. What I find incredible, to tell you the truth, is that I still have to explain to people what it is that I do. The internet has been mainstream since about the year 1999. And yet, people still don’t understand that the the clever stuff that all these websites do, isn’t the fault of designers (who are very important in other ways), and doesn’t just magically happen because the internet pixies make it work.

(And why, by the way, is it still acceptable for people to be proudly clueless about the basic workings of the internet, as if it were still the provide of the poorly socialised – as if not knowing somehow makes them not a nerd, and confers on them the status of well-adjusted human automatically? I mean, if someone thought that cars just magically went forward, we’d laugh at them. We expect people to at least know words like “sparkplug” and “piston” and have some reasonable comprehension of how they work to produce forward motion, even if opening the bonnet themselves to change anything would be beyond them, don’t we? How many of you actaully know what happens when you type an address into your browser and hit return?)

No, it’s not the sexiest job in the world. But it’s a profession. It requires training and specialised learning. Why the hell aren’t there any fictional characters in my line of work?

I have just read this back. I am clearly on the strong cough medecine tonight, aren’t I? I should probably go to bed, and enjoy my healing coma. Mmmm, medication…

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