Many times working in the computer industry it can seem like a vast mystery to those outside of the field. You or I may easily point to programmer and say how different that field is from what an administrator might do. This is to say that you or I haven’t dealt with coding issues but it’s usually a pretty big stretch. To most of the outside world they hear computer and they assume that you know everything about everything that involves computer. This leads to the false perception whether fostered or misguided that we do know everything. At times this can be very beneficial but in the end I think more harm comes to us because we can’t always answer all of those questions. It was often that I was approached at a small company I worked for and asked about some excel scenarios that I couldn’t answer. After all my knowledge of Excel could be encapsulated with ‘autosum’. While I look as excel as a basic container for data and nothing more others see it as a powerful tool to accomplish their daily tasks. When they asked that crazy question they come away with is a diminished view of my technical abilities. Which in the end is the truth; after all I am a Windows administrator not an Excel guru. I don’t claim to be and my resume certainly doesn’t state this but when people see a computer people don’t realize that there is a difference.
I crudely equate this to being a doctor as the field began to gain legitimacy. While doctors where all viewed as quacks during that field infancy there was a twinge of legitimacy. It doesn’t mean that there were some misguided people who set this belief back and hurt the medical field, but in the end the field matured and people came to recognize medicine as a legitimate science. Even to the point that people will now recognize the difference between a cardiologist and pediatrician.
In some ways we are generalist much like the afore mentioned pediatrician and cardiologist. After all they have to know the human body and understand how to work in that particular field, but once you start asking specific questions about their particular fields you begin to see just how different they are. In this same way this is what I believe it is to be a Windows Administrator. Different that Linux administrator, Network Engineer, or programmer, but rooted in a common field. As we develop and mature in this field more of the general public will come to understand that difference between each of us.