#BlogElul Day 4: Understand

IT is one of the few places I can think of where people who call themselves professionals can be successfull even while they don’t understand huge swaths of the technology they use.

I have met entire teams of server administrators who can’t explain the first thing about IP addresses, or networking in general. Similarly, I have met network engineers who don’t know and don’t care how operating systems communicate.

This is partially by design, and partially by convenience. DBA’s don’t need to understand how packets are built up and broken down as they traverse switches and routers. In a handful of situations, they may be able to be more effective in troubleshooting an issue if they DID know, but most of the time it’s not important. The network is a big black box where their data goes (and, if you ask them, the network is the reason their data is delivered so slowly. But they’re wrong. IT’S NEVER THE NETWORK!!)

HOWEVER…

There is a difference between not understanding and not caring to understand. One is due to a lack of opportunity but not curiosity. The other is a willing abdication of responsibility to know.

And I think the second is extremely unhealthy.

As IT Professionals, we need to be committed to lifelong (or at least career-long) learning and growth. No area of IT is too esoteric to WANT to know about. We may not have time right now; we may not be able to utilize the knowledge immediately.

But rest assured that understanding how and why something works the way it does is ALWAYS better than the alternative.