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A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

It’s been a few frustrating weeks lately on the ol’ Support Desk for me and my team.

We used to write of the “early days” in the industry when things were being wrangled out, sorted… methods and systems were being discovered, polished up, made better. It was all new to everyone… domains, websites, DNS, “pointing”, email. Somewhere along the line it also became apparent this was going to be a “Do It Yourself” kind of endeavor.

Because computers were masters of automation, somehow this wonderful group of new business and personal users were thrown into a self help pile. First it was How To pages… then it was FAQ sections (Frequently Asked Questions)… then graphics and videos… all focused on making you the client do the work to receive the services you were paying for.

As in life… the more this gets put in front of you, the more you start to accept it as “status quo”… that it’s the way things are done.

The other wave that has been possibly even more disturbing and damaging is the lack of qualification needed to “hang up a shingle” and sell your claimed expertise on managing this new technology. Let’s be blunt… if you go into a doctor’s office, there is a diploma. He has been vetted, passed exams, and is qualified by a board of peers. Yes some are better… but they are all backed up by a system that can also remove them if they are ineffective or negligent. Same for lawyers, accountants… all professionals.

As probably one of the most disruptive, influential and critical changes to come about in history, the web and internet and it’s related services would logically demand that same sort of qualification and oversight of its managers and administrators. But therein my dear readers, lies the conundrum and the essence of the turmoil within which we still find ourselves.

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing…”

The origins of this phrase can be attributed to Alexander Pope, Francis Bacon and an anonymous writer only known as “AB”… but the point remains as powerful today as ever. The internet’s rapidly developing landscape… it’s maze of rules, processes, services…the inevitable abuses… and the intertwined computer technology all mix together into one massive uphill learning curve. It’s prevalence and essential requirements in so many areas of our lives now leave us at the mercy of those professing to know “how it works.”

And thus it began, and thus it grew. There were few sheriffs in the internet’s old west… at least nowhere near as many needed to fend off the bad guys. As hard as they tried to keep things clean, the short cutters, bargain sellers, and desperados, armed with just a few of the many essential tools… put up shingles and started selling “expertise”.

Oh some were very clever… and had many skills that could certainly make them look powerful and in control. Like training a dog to bark three times when you asked him what 2 plus 1 equals… they had the ability to convince you of their qualification to teach dogs math. Their end goal in many cases however, was far from noble and somewhat removed from your own. Form a list… leverage your trust… create influence and need… and grab those fees.

Who was to question… who was to know. The playing field had no rules… there were no certificates and no way to know who actually was qualified or even able to get you to where you needed to go. And when things went awry, a whole new set of skills were hauled out on how to defray, misdirect and point fingers.

Today sadly, “a little knowledge…” still runs rampant. Website owners, domain owners, business owners… many highly skilled in their own areas of expertise, are still at the mercy of an internet support system that holds no one to professional standards.

Now I must qualify…

Of course there are IT experts… highly skilled, trained and certified programmers who create the code and keep the massive infrastructure of the internet running. Much like the engineers and draftsmen though who design your assembly lines and automobiles, these are not the people you are in touch with every day to keep your SUV running.

It’s that mechanic who fixes that “knock or ping”… and knows where to look when you say “It shudders when I do this…”

And so I return to my first line… it’s been a few frustrating weeks. It’s not the solving of these problems for you… it’s overcoming the bad info, the bad programming, the misinformation and outright misdirection put out by the “little knowledge” clan. We know those cans of sugar and caffeine loaded energy drinks are bad for the us… but try and be the one putting that message out while your client is being pounded repeatedly every day with the potential of growing wings.

And so, over the next while… I’m going to do my best to try and lead you down a straighter path… offer you simpler advice… give you cleaner direction. You’ve no doubt had your fill of confusion… experienced enough frustration with conflicting advice… had every imaginable marketing trick in the book thrown at you. Whether it is you, your secretary, your manager or your partner… there’s enough pressure out there in today’s business climate w/o you having to double guess your internet and web advice.

I’m going to start clearing that all up…

... and I’ll begin with my story and my qualifications… and why you should trust me.

Kenneth Cool
COOLCOM Canada