It's not often that I listen to something an American tells me, but a couple of weeks back I had the fortune to travel the highways and byways of Southern England with a guy from Orange County, CA. He told me various stories, many of them centering on his cousin, of whom he is obviously very fond, who lives in Swindon. Poor sod.
Said Swindoner was a mover and shaker of some sorts in the British Computer Society, one of those acronyms I've heard of and keep hearing of more regularly, and have even considered joining to the point of downloading the application forms. Then it all got a bit tricky and I gave up.
So instead of being a characteristically lazy bugger, I sat on my fat behind and emailed this chap. He got back to me quickly and I ended up talking to another geezer from Swindon about how great the BCS truly is. He then said the magic words "online application form" and I was hooked. I even got a 10% discount for my troubles.
The BCS does have some serious points to make, and this is something I took on board whilst talking to my wife again on a recent jolly back over in Spain. She was lamenting the lack of good computer teaching in schools. She trained as a teacher and never entered professionally because the kids (in Swindon - ironically and circularly) were a nightmare. I told her that I couldn't do it, and wouldn't because it wouldn't pay me anything close to what I get now.
It's true, sadly. Those who can, do, and sod the rest. I've thought about setting up schemes with Universities to share knowledge, but I just don't have the spare time. A blog is about as altruistic as I get. My ideal would be to get the pros talking to the Unis and the Unis talking to the schools, then everyone magically living in my little communist utopia happily ever after. I don't think I could make that work - certainly not with my selfish money-grabbing attitude.
The BCS are nicer than me though, probably because they've had to suffer in Swindon for so long. I'm sure there are many people in the BCS outside of Swindon who are nice too. They are aiming to share knowledge, create professional standards, and set up an infrastructure like most other long standing professions have. It's great that computerists can finally be recognised and support by their peers. Maybe it'll stop all the cliqueyness in IT? Maybe not, but I'm sure they have made Swindon a happier place.
[Disclaimer: The BCS has offices all over the UK, I just happened upon Swindon for personal reasons. Swindon is one of the loveliest places in the UK, nay the world.]