"Want to find out how good someone is? Take away all their tools and say, 'Now do it.'" -- @SecShoggoth
Have you heard of Thomas Thwaite? He took a maker’s approach to toasters. By reverse engineering a £3.99 argo toaster, Thwaite was able to build his own model. He smelted the iron. He melted the plastics. He may have argued with a volleyball named Wilson. I am not sure on that last point. But after nine months and £1187.54, Thwaite had himself a toaster.
A tweet by Tyler Hudak (@SecShoggoth) had me comparing toasters to information technology. Just what is a tool? Is it that application you are using? Fine. Let’s rewrite the app to show how good we are. But wait … what about the IDE? Is that a tool? No worries. We will use cat and bang the C code out straight. What about the compiler? What about the language itself? The OS? The computer itself? How about the motherboard and daughter cards? What about ICs? The transistor?
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." Carl Sagan sums up the slippery slope we ride.
We live in a remix society. We -- in the IT and InfoSec industry -- work on the largest hackable platform in human history. Everything we do depends upon the work of others. Everything we make builds upon the tools of others. Every day we take from and give back to this hackable platform we call modern IT.
We can compare the new generation’s approach to IT as the Nintendo generation. Heck, they just download an app, point-and-click, and done. That’s not IT.
I recall folks lambasting my generation because we had a GUI. Heck, we had keyboards and mice. All we had to do was boot up, point-and-click, and done. That’s not IT. That’s not real computing.
I wager the generation before were heckled because they did not have to use punch cards. And don’t get me started about slackers who use transistors instead of vacuum tubes.
There is a certain rugged nostalgia for folks like Thomas Thwaite. People who toss aside the benefits of society to forge their own way are admirable. Equally admirable, in my opinion, are those who save time and money with clever hacks to the platform. These are folks that excel thru expert use of modern tools.
See, IT has become a team sport. The one man toaster and the lone sysadmin are throw backs. The way forward is mastery of your specific toolset combined with a team of folks equally skilled in complementary tools. Give me a team, tools, £1187.54, and nine months. We will change the world.
Note this article comes from a discussion on Twitter between @SecShoggoth, @RogueClown, and @LenIsham. @SecShoggoth blogged on expanding your skillsets beyond the tools you are comfortable with here: Tools and News.