The Perception of IT, What can we do to Change it?

So who frequently get’s the digs from their non techy friends about being a ‘geek’? I do all the time, of course it’s a joke but it always made me think, why is ‘geek’ seen as a bad thing? I’ve never seen it that way, you just have to look at the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Tom Anderson, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and at how much of an impact that have made on the whole of today’s industry!

So I’ve decided that I’d like to change the perceptions some people have of IT and those that work within it. Why do I think we should change the perceptions of IT? Because it’s not what it used to be, it’s cool and avaliable and we should be ecouraging young people to consider a career within IT so we can constantly push our technology limits. I think there is already a change happening and I believe instead of removing the ‘geek’ tag we should just break down it’s current definition and reform it. To do this I think we need to be addressing where the perceptions begin to be formed.

Schools, I’m not entirely sure how IT is taught in schools at the moment but I know I have seen some great teaching style programs that incorporate a game with what is essentially programming without the user even knowing. Are we using these tools and then explaining to the students how they could make programs just like those in IT? We need to make them more aware of the everyday items that use technology, like a microwave or the washing machine(granted these aren’t very exciting items but you get the picture).

The other angle we could take is to make parents more aware of how technology influences our day to day life and how a career in IT is a rewarding, interesting and future shaping. I think sometimes IT is seen as simply ‘working with computers’, well that is what my mother describes me as doing to family and friends! How many times have you been asked if you could fix someone’s computer and wouldn’t really know what to do as it’s not your field.

After discussing with numerous passionate tech people, I think the key things that I should be looking to address are awareness of IT and how much we rely on it every day along with the awareness of the wide variety of job roles you can have that involve IT in some form in order to adjust these perceptions.

Here’s a fantastic video produced by e-skills www.itstheruddyfuture.com. I think it’s extremely well produced and executed and is just the type of media that will help to break down these perceptions.

What do you think we can do to change the perceptions? What demographics should we be aiming campaigns at? How do we engage young people? Love to hear your ideas! I’d also like to know of any things that are already being done?

Filed under: Debate, ,

5 Responses

  1. sarajchipps Says:

    The fact that folks like you are trying to change it is great! keep up the good work.

    Posted on August 13th, 2009 at 21:22

  2. Andrew Myhre Says:

    Glamour calendars?

    Posted on August 13th, 2009 at 21:29

  3. Rob The Geek Says:

    To be honest, I think things are already underway in helping to break this image down.

    I think a lot of it stems from the "classic" geek – who would tend to be an elitest nerd locked away in the bedroom/basement hacking away. Basically with the attitude that they do not want to go outside and mix with the lowly "humans" who cannot do something as simple as build a graphics card with only blu tack, with their eyes closed while drinking tea on their head.

    Nowadays, things are changing, they've HAD to. Us geeks have to be closer to our customers/clients, we need to talk to them, communicate effectively and put ourselves in their shoes. This is a MASSIVE difference.

    Every old-school (classic) geek I have ever worked with has either had a pretty short job or they simply had no work since nobody wanted to work with them. Added to which, the market is a lot more competitive now. You need guys who can write working code, FAST. With the agile movement becoming increasingly popular, the classic geeks are being weeded out, they simply cannot function in the fast-paced, collaborative environment.

    I LOVE software, I get excited talking about it, I am passionate about developing my craft and to top it all, I get paid to do it. The funny thing is, lots of new people I meet are surprised when I tell them I am a geek. I often wonder why.. Here's what I have so far:

    1. I am out socialising in the first place.
    2. They don't know my crazy habits like my sleep pattern :D
    3. I'm humble.
    5. I skip numbers in sequence because I can be that spontaneous and cool with it.
    6. I want to HELP rather than show off/make people look stupid.
    7. I don't dress like Dilbert.
    8. People are just generally closer to technology. With the massive increase on social networking, people are glued to computers more. Hell, I would go as far to say as some of the people I know are more geeky than me! :)

    Interesting question :)

    Posted on August 13th, 2009 at 21:37

  4. Martin Says:

    Having worked in Non IT Computing after leaving Uni in 2004 (sitting in rooms with no windows, working on machines with no internet, hacking away at some godforsaken C++ algorithm for research purposes)

    … and the in IT (buzz words, brightly coloured offices, meeting customers, excited and enthusiastic peers), I'd say that IT has nothing to worry about.

    I'd consider myself a geek (at work, and a little at home), and why not, but I am still respected in what I can bring to the table.

    This new age of IT (and technology in general) is about communication and information sharing, this puts a little glamour into the job.

    I think the perception is changing all by itself, but its hard for me to know what this perception is like, because i'm on the inside :-)

    http://blog.mgallen.com

    Posted on August 31st, 2009 at 08:09

  5. Paul Says:

    Hi

    Some progress is being made as more people use IT and see how useful it is. There is however a bit of a gap between people recognising that their favourite programs, websites etc are made by ordinary people who enjoy creating the future of IT and aren’t creepy people in basements. Maybe this is down to the way IT is taught as I have heard people aren’t inspired by the IT classes they had at school as all they did was go over office a lot.

    So if schools aren’t getting the message across then how do you change the perception of IT, is it making adults more aware so they pass the message onto their children or is it better to show children how their favourite sites, programs etc are made by ordinary people and IT is not only a cool career but the ruddy future.

    At least we have an IT comedy now with the IT crowd but I ain’t too sure that helps the cause.

    I am without a doubt a geek as I don’t do anything other than computers which is a shame and I should get out more so maybe I ain’t the best person to break down the stereotype. However saying this many geeks actually have a life and as they are in a very profitable business and are well paid have the disposable income to enjoy themselves. So really being a geek isn’t as bad as it is interpreted and can be quite cool really but how do you tell people that? This isn’t a question I have the answer too however.

    Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 14:26

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