Thursday, February 20, 2014

Unplugging Yourself from Your Matrix of Choice

And wouldn't you know it? I did it anyway. Damnit.
I end up writing about technical communities often. I've shared advice on Community Fatigue and Coffee Makers. I'm often found at MDVMUG meetings, vBeers in the DC/Baltimore area, and generally any virtualization social group. And I'm usually active on Thwack.

But lately, I'm spending time with something new, something well outside of the virtualization and infrastructure worlds I've lived in for, well, forever. Now I'm diving into the world of ServiceNow. I'm defining the ServiceNow program for a large federal agency. I'm paying close attention to ITSM and operational metrics. And I'm getting out of the office as I visit with lots of smart people hidden in nondescript buildings distributed through Montgomery County.

But forget about all that for a minute. Here's the really crazy part: ServiceNow is a universe unto itself.

The ServiceNow universe has characteristics similar to the VMware, Cisco, and SolarWinds universes:

  • Online communities - Look! An online community of like-minded IT practitioners and professionals who shared knowledge and help one another. Hell, it even uses Jive.
  • Active Twitter feeds - Just when I thought my filter bubble was unbreakable, I started following ServiceNow evangelists and users, and now it's all different and new!
  • User Groups - I attended the Federal SNUG today, and was shocked how many people were there talking exclusively about ServiceNow.
  • Conferences - Knowledge14 is coming up, and people are so excited, you'd think they were talking about VMworld or something!

But none of this is the point.

Here's the point: when you're in the depths of any technical community or universe, you lose your holistic perspective on IT. Your opinions and assumptions are based on a niche; you think that the world exists to stand in awe of the technology you're focused on. I used to think that about VMware. The world existed to be saved by virtualization and vSphere.

Each technical community you engage with is your own personal Matrix. You can't see how warped your perceptions are, and how easily your opinions are manipulated by marketing materials (yes, even technical marketing). But if you unplug yourself, even if it's just momentarily while you're preparing to plug into a new Matrix, you gain (or regain, perhaps) that clarity and perspective.