Communications skills and IT

Sunday morning is when I get to read most of the stuff I bookmarked during the week. Which means occasionally I notice stuff which I might not if I had been reading all along.

This morning, I have read yet another treatise on “don’t comment, just write better code” where Hungarian notation was the panacea for related problems (again) (argh). It’s one of a theme – I’ve already written about this another time so I won’t go too far into the details of that this time. But I program,. and I work with programmers and yes, there are programmers who don’t like commenting their code, and who don’t like writing documentation.

Hold that thought.

This week I also read something – probably a tweet now that I think of it – suggesting that people should learn how to set up a server in school. We also get that people should learn how to program in school. You know it’s tech specialists coming up with these ideas because non-tech specialists say generic things like “learn computers”.

Hold that thought.

I’ve also gotten stuck in arguments with people about how using computers should be hard to use because they were complicated .I wrote about that at the time as well by the way. And arguments about punishing users. I wrote about that too.

What occurred to me here was this. All of these are gaps in communication and the suggestion on the parts of those who do not have the communication skills expect others to fill different gaps so that they don’t have to fill their communications skills gap.

Other people should learn to read my code so that I don’t have to document it effectively.

Other people should learn to program so that they * understand * and I don’t have to document my code properly.

Other people should learn more about technology so that I don’t have to communicate gaps – which I designed – effectively to them.

Computers should be hard to use because they’re complicated so that I don’t have to make it easy for users.

I’m seeing a theme here. Tech workers don’t value communication skills enough and blame other people for their gaps in that area.

I’m helped in seeing this theme by another piece I read this morning – this time via Forbes on the provision of data science courses in the Illinois Institute of Technology. From that:

Data scientists also need the communication skills to give talks with clients to help them understand the needs at the beginning of a project and present results at the end (Professor Shlomo Argamon, professor of computer science and director of the masters program in data science)

and

He admits to some pushback from students over required communication courses.

and

But they may still not understand it involves learning to talk with people who are not technical. I hope they will learn how important these skills can be.”

In my view, this issue isn’t limited to potential data science students at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Not everyone is technical. The impression I get from some technical people is that other people should develop technical skills so that they don’t have to develop communications skills.

It’s just I think the world might be better if everyone developed better communication skills across the board first and didn’t argue the “well learn more about my specialisation before you annoy me with inane questions”.

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