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Publisher's Letter

Technical people should be held in high regard

By Leo Simpson

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Do your friends and work-mates think of you as a "techie"? As some sort of nerdy person or even a "geek" who knows about technical stuff but is otherwise a retiring sort of person, confined to the "back room"? If so, then that is a pretty common situation and one that I think is rather sad.

I hate the word "techie" and "geek", for that matter. To my mind, these are terms of deprecation, often used by IT and marketing people in particular, to describe someone who understands stuff that they don’t. If you think of yourself as a "techie" then consider the following.

In reality, you are a "technocrat" – part of a shining elite, a person who has taken the time and trouble to inform himself (or herself) about technology in a world where the vast majority of people are blissfully ignorant. Sadly, not only are the majority of people ignorant about technology but they are too lazy to do anything about or consider it "beneath them" as they occupy themselves with astrology, aromatherapy, water divining, crystal therapy, the latest fashion fad or other such trivialities.

In effect, any person who makes the effort to be fully informed about the technology which surrounds and affects every part of our lives is more in control. For example, if you don’t know that high intensity halogen or gas discharge lamps present an ultraviolet radiation hazard, how can you do anything about it? If you don’t understand anything about car electronics, how can you make choices about the best sort of car to buy, or know the best way to drive it?

Similarly, if you don’t know anything about TV, DVDs and home theatre systems, how can you possibly make the best decision when the time comes to buy such things?

Or say you hear on the news that mobile phone towers are dangerous, do you panic when one is about to be installed a kilometre away (the normal public reaction) or are you the one to reassure others? And as someone who is better informed, you can point out that the real danger is probably from the mobile itself, rather than the distant transmitting tower.

It should be clear then that people who are technically well-informed, whether as part of their job or interest, whether they read magazines such as SILICON CHIP and others, are not just "techies"; they really are a "clever elite", the technocrats. Give yourself a pat on the back. Increase your self esteem.

In fact, as technical people we need to make an effort to correct the tendency of the general public to undervalue people with technical skills. Of course, this does not just apply to people skilled in electronics; it applies to skilled people generally.

And this is not to say that we need to go around with "tickets on ourselves", thinking that we are superior to other people. But it is a far cry from being regarded as a lowly "techie", isn’t it?

Leo Simpson

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