What Endures by Eric Michie

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McDanielCA
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What Endures by Eric Michie

Postby McDanielCA » Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:18 pm

What Endures was originally posted on the main page of LDS Tech. It was written by Eric Michie.


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Those of us who work in IT have historically focused on being technology experts, as we should, but what should be our main focus? President David O. McKay, in the October 1966 general conference of the Church, said scientific discoveries “stagger the imagination. … discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings as to make men’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands. … This age is fraught with limitless perils, as well as untold possibilities.” Today, technology enables those “untold possibilities . . . latent with potent power.”

The IT acronym, information and technology, defines our focus. Too often, however, technology experts focus on the “T” as that which is most important. It is exciting and captures our imagination as it changes, moves, and evolves.

As Copernicus realized that the earth was not the center of the universe, we in IT need to have a similar epiphany. The center of our universe is not the technology, but the information – not the “T,” but the “I.”

Here at the Church, the same principle applies. The message of the Restoration is the same as it was in Joseph’s day. That information it is what endures. . Our purpose in IT is to leverage these inspired technologies to provide methods, systems, and tools to assist the Church in the capture, storage, preservation, and delivery of information. Technology is the tool—not the product.

It is easy to be distracted by the tools of our trade. We often view them as the most important element. We discuss, contend, and spend tremendous effort determining which tool, method, or process is best. We get caught up in debates over Java vs. .Net, Oracle vs. MS SQL, Waterfall vs. Agile, and buy vs. build, but the software and tools we use around the information will come and go.

We should be more focused on delivering the right solutions, rather than delivering the right tool. Sometimes, IT professionals get a bit defensive at this thought, but consider: in five years, it is possible we won’t be using the same technology we use now to create solutions for our customers.

Information may change in format and structure, but the content of the message will always remain the same. Here at the Church, the information is what endures.

The Lord has blessed us with incredible technology to build His kingdom here on the earth. As the watchmen, we have a sacred duty to understand and use this technology to further His work. We need to remember that the “T” is to enable the “I”. It is the “I” that endures.

Eric Michie is a senior program manager for the Church.

dmaynes
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Form and Function

Postby dmaynes » Thu Nov 20, 2008 5:21 pm

I agree with this author that information is the reason we deploy technology. In my own little world of software engineering, I have concentrated on the functionality and not the form of the application. In other words, if I was able to accomplish the job, without worrying about how elegant, esthetically pleasing, or even intuitively obvious, the result was, I was satisfied. But, I find this attitude is lacking.

I now find that value is added to information through its delivery and presentation. In this regard, we cannot separate the importance of the technology from the importance of the information. For example, maps.lds.org with its point-and-click interface is much more valuable as a method for presenting the information than previously existed with static lists. I deal with numbers and anytime I can present the numerical information in a visual or more intuitive layout that conveys the meaning of the information to the consumer, I feel that I have achieved a minor success.

I think the goal of the technology should be to simplify our lives so that we can use information more effectively and we can make better decisions.

Thanks,
Dennis


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