The Tech Stack and the Fisherman

I miss the English language, proper English. The kind of English you hear in old movies, the kind Audrey Hepburn or even Mr. Darcy spoke. Where so much was said without giving it all away up front. Where one could voice an emotional opinion without “being all like…”

Specifically, I’m annoyed with how we use the language to discuss technical advances, the digital world and integrate what we’re doing in development and coding into the language. For example, what the hell is a “Tech Stack“? I’m reading a book right now that summed this thought up in the introduction…talk about concise! The book is The Dude and the Zen Master, written by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman.

Bernie’s intro (they each have their own) discusses how he’s always wanted to share himself and his knowledge with the world. Citing an ancient Japanese Zen Master, Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, who said, and I’m paraphrasing, “unless you can explain Zen in words that a fisherman would understand, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Now I think this is spot on. I have encountered so many people, clients and other professionals, that are terrified or dumbfounded by the digital age and their presence online. Why do I need a responsive site? What can (fill in social media outlet here) do for me? Why is this important? and most frequently some version of – “I feel dumb for not knowing this, and it must be some crazy new technology if I’m unable to comprehend it at all.”

No it’s not some crazy new technology, it’s some of the people in the industry. I’m sure this is the case in any industry, but there is a large number of folks in the digital world (programmers, SEO experts, digital marketing folks) who are hooked on the tech jargon, so much so that they can’t just break it down for someone who’s totally outside the industry. Continuing to quote Bernie, “We like to hide from the truth behind foreign-sounding words or…lingo.” AMEN!

That’s what frustrates me most, yes we digital people are providing a great service but unless we can succinctly speak about it in terms that a 4th grader or fisherman could understand we don’t truly get it. You shouldn’t be intimidating someone into hiring you. You should show that you’re an expert in what you know and you can relate it to your client’s industry.

Let’s all take a step back, unplug from our work egos and realize that sounding like an expert is a lot different then being the expert those who are outside of your industry would want to work with.

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