Nick Randolph is a friend of mine and an active member of the ACS. He took the time to respond to my recent post on the Australian Computer Society (it was also in response to this other post of mine). Since Nick didn’t post them on his blog (I wish you did Nick . . .) I’ll just try and recap his points here as best I can:
- Unlike me he does want a professional society.
- He doesn’t believe that entry requirements should be limited to tertiary education (and points out that isn’t currently the case).
- He outlines a possible streamlined process for obtaining membership.
- He would also like $0 membership costs.
- He points out that the ACS is already influential and doesn’t NEED to grow.
- He thinks that the ACS may have relied to heavily on the internal certification program to stay relevant.
- He disagrees with Kevin Daly and I about IT being a trade and that he believes we will see divergence between those practicing IT as a trade and those practicing IT as a profession (but also points out that this is independent of his comments on the ACS).
Thanks for taking the time to reply Nick, you should post this stuff on your blog though, it makes you more linkable. I’m going to more or less try and tackle your points but more in the hope that it’ll spin of some more discussion – besides, I have a brand new battery in my laptop and a comfy couch.
What does professionalism get you?
What does being recognised as a professional in the ICT business really get you? I guess this is what I really can’t understand. Does it get you some leverage with the policy makers that you wouldn’t get by having a more open membership or is it just the desire to be somehow recognised by your peers?
I can tell you now Nick, that the reason that I recognise you and respect your skills has nothing to do with your ACS membership, it has to do with the passion you show for the technology that you work with and your dedication to building technical communities – open technical communities like the usergroup over there in Perth.
Perhaps the only thing I can really get about the whole professionalism thing is having a code of ethics – but if thats all it is then point me to the holy list and if I agree with them then I’ll sign something saying that I do, and that I’ll conduct myself according to them.
I have to admit that I have to stop myself laughing out loud when someone recites to me the virtues of a tertiary education, particularly in computer science (I know you didn’t Nick, but I still want to tell this story).
Believe it or not I do not have a university degree in anything, I’ve tried a couple of times – first when I left school, and later via distance education. The first time around I left and resume a practical hands on role in the field (it seemed more relevant to me at the time) and the second time I got disgusted with the curriculum.
Of course people have often told me (as you did Nick) that “University is about learning how to think” – and by that I figure they are talking about the ability to critically analyse and react accordingly.
Well – when I was at university for the second time around I was working on a submission for marking that required me to submit a document showed a manual desk check of a relatively simple selection of code. I did the excercise but I started a discussion on one of the newsgroups attached to the module and asked what the purpose of the excercise was.
Right on queue the lecturer came back and said that the purpose of the excercise is to verify that the code that was written is correct. I was baffled – I commented that most modern development platforms include an integrated debugger which would make this process much much faster and quite frankly – less error prone, which would seem to assist the stated objective.
To that the lecturer responded that no debugger existed for the pseudo code that we were executing. Its a good point, but in the real world the development platform is incumbent or selected through a vendor selection process long before the algorithms are developed – and even in scientific computing a favourite language is selected.
I pointed the above out to the lecturer and the response was basically – well, you are going to have to do it that way or I’ll fail the excercise. I guess I wasn’t learning to think the way they wanted me to . . .
ACS doesn’t need to grow to gain influence?
“There is no such thing as a contradiction, if you should find one, check your premises” – Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
Thats a quote from Atlas Shrugged (as indicated) which basically says that if you encounter a contradiction something that you have taken to be true is not true and you should “check your premises”.
I thought the whole point of this discussion was that the ACS needs to grow its membership in order to stay relevant by influencing the policy makers here in Australia. Why would you even bother trying to broaden the membership base if there was no need – it sounds like a monumental waste of money and effort, and the current ACS members must be really scratching their heads – but there not.
The current drives for membership aren’t just to get funds to support a big geeky party at the end of the year, they are to fund the actiivities associated with lobbying to the government and industry about the issues that the organisation believes in.
Its also true (from what I understand) that the ACS membership is aging (faster than the Australian population) which would seem to indicate that the membership will be moving into decline – when that happens so will the influence that the ACS can apply. It occurs to me that the ACS needs to grow its membership just to survive.
Once again, thanks for taking the time to respond Nick, I think by airing this issues people will come to understand more what the ACS is about, and maybe the ACS will come to understand more about what the majority working in the ICT industry want from them in order to become members.