Friday, January 09, 2009

About experience

Just a few days ago Ryan Watson mentioned one of my articles in his blog post. It really wouldn't be anything important to write about but the first comment by Kevin really amused me and the comment was "Who is this guy and why is he qualified to comment on databases."

Blahhh... My answer was "[..] why does it matter and isn't better just to make reasonable pros and/or cons about the subject?" and Kevin answered with "Experts carry more weight than a novice; a senior Oracle admin with 20 years of experience has more experience to draw on. This is why a senior DBA will make $100 k and novice $20 k."

This was something so immediate and direct statement that let me started to think more about this subject. How much experience means to me? How much it means to other people (virtually) around me? Probably we all know one of the brightest stars in this area good old Don with one of his latest performances here, but undoubtely for all of us - if we don't know other people and they say something, their experience somehow matters. So how much does it matter for me?

1. I definitely have positive experience with some people and know their knowledge and writing style. They have credit in my eyes and I read each their article/statement/whatever else with more caution than on average. Even if the beginning of the message is somehow blurry or overall quality is not that perfect this time. They have to "apply efforts" to their articles to make me angry and sceptic.
2. I definitely have negative experience with a few people and know their usually blurry and washy posts without any resultant technical value. They have really minus credits in my eyes and even if this time they have written something technically sound I'm quite suspect about that. They have to write something really, really good to attract my attention other than sigh "usual crap".
3. I definitely have neutral experience with quite a lot of people. Let's say "nothing special" :) I read their articles only when they are directly related to my particular current needs.
4. People whom I've met the first time or haven't made any particular impression. These are the most complex part. What is my attitude to them? Analyzing my usual behaviour the conclusion is - I start reading the article with some interest and few starting paragraphs should attract my attention. They must be interesting or suitable for my needs otherwise I jump to next article. BUT. I've never (OK almost never :) read the author's CV, last rows about the author how cool he is or whatever else describing his experience. The content of the article is what matters for me.

So people I don't know win over people with negative credit (whose articles I usually even don't read), but lose to people with positive credit (whose articles I usually try to read until the and to find out something valuable).

And returning to the initial comments - what does 20 years of experience mean to me? Most probably nothing. At least initially. 20 years ago there was Oracle 6, how does it help for today's work? Most probably in almost no way. I'd say that a few years for an inquiring and smart mind is enough to deserve more than a person with 20 years experience stalled in Oracle 8. Actually he wins without any doubt at all.

The (quality of) content is what matters - this is the conclusion. At least for people I don't know :)


Noons said...

Gints, this is the usual nonsense of "the old must be incompetent because they are old".

Listen to your argument:
"20 years ago there was Oracle 6, how does it help for today's work".

Has it ever crossed your mind that the field of database software, design, tuning, etc, might actually be a little bit wider than the span of ANY number of Oracle releases?

And that anyone with those 20 years experience has of necessity seen a LOT of releases, bugs, features, etc, and has likely been able to distill a little bit more information about database theory and practice than just how to startup a trace with whatever the command-du-jour might be?

Gints Plivna said...

Hmmmmm I probably wasn't clear enough.
Pure statement "20 years experience" helps me in no way better than "5 years experience" or another XX years experience. Neither in produced articles or even everyday's work unless particular person does not get new ideas, knowledge and is able to use them in practice. The message was that it depends on particular person. I've seen some of my colleagues with ~20 years of experience to be ignorant of new features, stalled in knowledge they gathered 10 years ago and unwilling to learn anything new. I've seen other my colleagues with ~20 years of experience to be real fund of knowledge and experience they gathered over the time.
As I personally don't know all the people writing articles on the web therefore I'm not able to understand what type of person he is. So the only way how to judge whether the information supplied is good or not is to look at it and try either logically understand or somehow verify. And personally for me paragraph below indicating that author has 20 years of exp would be of value close to zero if the content is crap as well as the absence of any paragraph at all in case the content seems great to me.

And no I'm not saying that just because someone has 20 years exp he must be bad. IN NO WAY!