Is IT a "profession?" Certifications and professional organizations are window dressing. IT won't be a profession until IT people start going to jail. People who shred paper can go to jail. Why not negligent people whose info system design and operation have the same effect?
How is a profession defined? Wikipedia quotes the The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought for this definition:
. . . the development of formal qualifications based upon education and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights.
By that definition IT is only an "occupation" like, heh, blogging.
Meet the enforcers Lawyers can be disbarred for malpractice. A doctor's license can be revoked. Structural engineer's licenses can be revoked and they can be sued for malpractice.
Software engineers are an obvious exception: if they could be sued they'd all be paupers. Software engineering clearly isn't a profession. Someday, maybe.
Welcome to the graybar hotel Jailing professionals means that their failures are bad for society as a whole. Doctors dispensing Oxy-Contin like candy are bad. Lawyers paying people to bring suits are bad.
Where to start? How about the White House email scandal.
The short story: the White House had a working Lotus Notes archive system, but during the run up to the Iraq war, someone decided to replace it with Microsoft Exchange - and no archive at all. At least 5 million emails are missing.
By law, the records of the Executive Office of the President are government property and must be preserved. We, the taxpayers, fund them, and they owe us.
Your tax dollars at work? Theresa Payton, the current CIO of the EOP, may be a candidate for jail, even though she's only been CIO for 2 years. Here's a quote from her testimony about the new White House email archive system:
Then there is a second team who does a QA of the work they are doing to make sure that the messages that went into the Microsoft Journal that here then automatically moved through a software program that we have into Microsoft Personal Storage Tables, or PSTs, a second group takes a look at that work and also, if they note any technology glitches, notes that in the log.
Gee, this Microsoft Journal product must be pretty important, using it for this critical national purpose. So I searched Microsoft.com for this important product I'd never heard of. #1 hit: something for the tablet PC. Oh.
Microsoft, on the record, doesn't recommend using .pst files as archives:
The .pst files are not meant to be a long-term, continuous-use method of storing messages in an enterprise environment.
Why? you ask:
. . . the use a .pst file over a network connection may result in a corrupted .pst file if the connection degrades or fails.
From the White House perspective that's a feature, not a bug. Accountability is for the little people.
The Storage Bits take Sending IT geeks to jail sounds harsh. But if you want to be a "professional" it needs to be done.
Persistent information makes civilization possible. Managing information systems is an important job that should be accorded "professional" status and responsibility.
Statutory preservation requirements need IT professionals who are empowered - and have the personal incentive - to stand up to execs who try to cover up wrong-doing or incompetence.
It's simply pay to play. With professional stature comes professional responsibility.
Comments welcome, of course. Do you still want to be a professional?