Religious bias in the tech world…

And no, I’m not talking about actual religions here (insert mandatory reference to Flying Spahetti Monster ^_^), this is about technology religions, technology evangelism to the point where you’re blinded to all other options. Admit it, you’ve done it at least once in your life – we all have.

I’m a Windows Systems Administrator. There. I said it. I’m *proud* of my skills, I love my job and I love what I do. I enjoy tinkering with Windows systems and getting them to work, I feel the little buzz of excitement when new products are announced, I love getting RC’s and RTM’s and testing them out. I truly am a Windows fan-girl. No hiding it.

However, I also realise that the systems that I so love and adore have limitations. Windows is not the most awesome operating system in the whole wide world and some of it’s products aren’t my “favourites”. I have an Android phone. I use Chrome as my browser. I have an Ubuntu box hosting this blog. Just because I love what I do and love the systems, doesn’t mean I push it for *every single situation*. I know that Windows systems aren’t suited for everything, can’t do everything or have limitations that prevent them from being the best system for a particular task.

The reason for this blog article is because I’ve recently come across some heavy bias in my own work. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, having experienced it for a number of years in my previous job, however I honestly thought that it wasn’t as prevalent as it seems to be. It seems that the fact that a system was running “Windoze” was a reason for it to be mistrusted – and us fellow Windows Sysadmins along with it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to play the martyr here with a “Woe is me” story. I’m just pointing out the fact that as a Windows Administrator, I’ve come across a variety of people who’ve held exceptionally negative views about Microsoft, Windows and those who administer their services, including (but certainly not limited to) disgust, contempt, superiority and condescension.

I find it extremely frustrating to be told that because I use a mouse to do a large portion of my job that I’m not “as good” as someone who uses a command line. The work that I do is just as important as that of my “typey-typey” colleagues. I find it irritating to be told that the problem “must be with the Windows system because it’s Windows”. No – that is not a legitimate reason. I find it hurtful to be told that the systems that I administer are insecure and “part of the problem, not the solution”.

I’m also aware that a large number of these views that are held by people are to cover up the truth – fear of the unknown. The people who say these things (and mean them, rather than in jest!) have very little knowledge of the system – and that scares them. They don’t understand how they work, they don’t understand how to fix them and they do seem to understand just how complicated the systems are. This frightens them because it’s something they don’t have control of.

Knowing this has made it much, much easier for me to deal with this bias. Rather than seeing it as an attack, I see it almost as a fight-or-flight response – because they’re scared of the system and don’t understand it, they attack it. It means that my approach in dealing with these people is to be as calm as possible in letting them know, in the simplest terms possible, what they want to know.

It would be great if this bias didn’t exist. It would be fantastic if everyone, all sysadmins everywhere, could just get along. But we’re only human and we’ll always fear what we don’t understand…which is why I have a fear of OS X ^_^

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