IT ‘Don’t Get No Respect’

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What do firefighters, scientists and medical professionals like doctors and nurses have in common? They’re all very highly regarded professions, according to a recent Harris poll. More than half of the respondents in the survey, which involved more than 1,200 U.S. adults, rated those occupations as having “very great prestige.” Near the bottom of the list were careers like stockbrokers, accountants and journalists. (Ouch!)


And what of IT, you ask? Sadly, the answer is “not at all.” Not as in “no prestige,” but as in not even included in the study. Information technology was nowhere to be found on a list of 22 occupations that featured athletes, actors, entertainers and members of Congress, all of which have very small workforces but considerably high profiles. (There are only 535 people in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.) This snub is surprising and something of an outrage, especially considering that the industry employs millions upon millions and is responsible for completely revolutionizing business, from the Web browser to the Excel spreadsheet.


The most analogous occupation to IT professionals on the list was engineers, which had a respectable showing of 34 percent in the “very great prestige” category, placing it near the middle of the pack. (Only 3 percent said it had hardly any prestige at all.) But this characterization for IT would be indistinct at best, and misleading at worst. I think techies have earned their own spot on the list. If you agree, contact the Harris polling people at and let them know about it. And tell them a journalist sent you.


The poll did get me thinking (a rarity for me) about the most venerable positions within IT. I would guess high-level positions like CIO, IT architect and IT director would be up there. Ditto for specialists in information security and storage. I’d like to put the question to you, though. What do you think is the most prestigious job in the industry? As with the Harris poll, salary, rank and publicity aren’t the main factors, but rather reputation. Let me know about it at


Brian Summerfield is Web editor for Certification Magazine. Send him your favorite study tips and tech tricks at


Information Saturation
A new study conducted by Ball State University professors shows that the average American consumes about nine hours of media per day, whether it’s through television, cell phones, the Internet, iPods or countless other technologies, or books, magazines and newspapers. It’s officially inescapable: Now, like it or not, you will know exactly who Brad Pitt just dumped.


One unexpected finding included that 18- to 24-year-olds spend less time online than any other age group, with the exception of senior citizens. Maybe they should be called “Generation Luddite.”


Life, Liberty and a Good Wi-Fi Connection
Citizens of San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom has launched a fight for your right to Wi-Fi. In a recent news conference held to address the possibility that the city might offer inexpensive—or even free—wireless network connections anywhere within its borders, Newsom called Wi-Fi a “fundamental right” and a “civil rights issue” for all citizens. “(Wi-Fi) is inevitable,” he said. “This is long overdue.” (Source: Reuters).


Newsom is concerned that cable and telephone providers and government regulations could hamper the project, which is slated to start sometime in the next few months. Companies like Google, Cingular and EarthLink have already bid on the wireless supplier contract. The citywide Wi-Fi coverage is expected to cost between $8 million and $16 million, and much of the funding could come from online advertising.


San Francisco actually isn’t the first place to try this. Niue, a small island in Polynesia, has offered free wireless Internet service to anyone with a Wi-Fi card since 2003. Plans like Newsom’s also are afoot in places like Philadelphia, Huntsville, Ala., and Ann Arbor, Mich.

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