Who said consumerization of IT would be all good?
I certainly didn’t. It is happening and you either get with the program or . . . .

Case in point
I was doing an on line search for the zone info on hard drives. App note? Disk manual? Nope.

Only these info-free PDFs that have as little information as possible.

Things were different at DEC
Ken Olsen, DEC’s founder, believed in giving customers lots of free info about DEC products: instruction sets, interface specs, component operation, whatever. The company printed up millions of VAX Architecture Manuals which described the VAX instruction set. I made sure all my customers had them, and they seemed to appreciate the manuals.

It took me a while to figure out why. It wasn’t like they ever opened them.

Soldiers have ribbons and medals. Professors have diplomas and books. Medical doctors have lab coats and stethoscopes. VCs have exotic cars and jets.

What do IT workers have? Bookshelves in their cubicles. Loaded with fat books. Fat books with TLA-heavy titles bespeaking arcane knowledge and powerful IT juju.

Have you ever seen a well-worn book on cubicle bookshelf?
I haven’t. And why? If the guy needed to look at the book, why is he getting paid? The unthumbed book says “see this big fat computer book I’ve never opened? I know all that stuff already! “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

Like the passing of Middle Earth, the old ways are dying
Is your salesman handing you architecture manuals? Not likely. And why? Because technology no longer sells technology. Features and benefits sell technology to people who don’t understand technology and – gasp – don’t need to. If you can’t show a six month ROI, don’t even open your mouth. If you can, who cares what the technology is?

The hearts of men are weak. Their minds aren’t much better.
I like the arcana of tech, of all kinds. I know what a sodium-filled exhaust valve is and how it works. I prefer timing chains over belts. I will never, if I can help it, buy an automatic transmission. Web presses (Web 0.2?), lasers, mercury delay lines, Turing machines, DSPs, DLPs, DLTs, and I love DTS. In a consumer world though, there is no need to satisfy the curiosity of people like me. Or you.

Tech writers are expensive. They slow down developers. And who reads their manuals anyway?

If it isn’t as obvious as an iPod, back to the drawing board.
Consumerization of IT is going to unleash some great stuff. It already has. But one downside is that getting technical information about how the thing works and what it is made of is going to be up to the users. We have allies in the design engineers, who love an appreciative audience.

The StorageMojo take
Making stuff that just works is wonderful. Yet I like to know how it works. Less and less time and money are being devoted to explaining how stuff works as IT becomes less like magick and more like plumbing. Enjoy learning about tech while you can. Another 20 years and the workings of most tech devices will be shrouded, not in secrecy, but in ignorance.

Comments welcome as always.