I’m regretting not taking that European holiday now. Moneywise, jobwise and studywise it made a lot of sense to postpone the holiday for a few (too many!) months, but those are probably a few of the reasons I wish I was travelling now. I look out the window of my study at the evening sky and I dream I am with my wife at the beach at Brighton Le Sands, eating grilled crab from the seafood takeaway and watching the planes takeoff from Kingsford Smith airport across Botany Bay. Then I want to be at that airport catching my own flight.
My job and the one that preceeded it are causing me the most stress right now. Yes, I have two big astronomy projects to do (one simulation is currently running on my other PC), but ultimately they are an enjoyable challenge. I derived a lot of pleasure out of writing the code beyond the star formation simulation. Scripting applications was something that I enjoyed in my last job as webmaster of the ATNF. I am still angry at the way they treated me at the end of the contract, keeping me in suspense for months before not even bothering to give me an interview. The new guy has done a great job, but I note how my supervisor has "forgotten" a number of her usability constraints that she kept harping on for my work.
I should be happy that my new job is on the same site as my old one. But something has been nagging me since I started and I think that I have finally identified what it is. Marketing. It appears that almost the entire ICT website is simply a marketing tool, bereft of real information. Even the intranet is mostly management fluff. This is almost the exact opposite of the ATNF site which had very little "general public" content but lots of stuff for the real users of the facility, the astronomers and engineers.
There needs to be a balance between the two types of content, but I wonder if the "communicators" have enough understanding to appreciate the technical side. Perhaps they believe that if they don’t understand it then nobody else who is important will. Yet I’ve tried using the website as a technical user looking for prospective web technologies and been sorely disappointed. Maybe techies are just not a big enough fish for them, they want the ignorant pointy-heads who purchase based on buzzwords (hey, that’s how CSIRO bought Vignette).
The other aspect which irks me is the distance between those in charge of the website and the computer techs who look after the underlying servers. I lay this down to technical ignorance on the part of the communicators, but it’s stupid because the techs are fundamental for unleashing the power of the web technologies. There’s not much understanding in my group about the development of dynamic websites for instance, which is why they end up doing many tasks multiple times when they could be reusing content across the site.
However, I’m hesitant to push things in my group because I worry about causing offense and denting my future employment prospects. That’s what pisses me off most of all about my last job. They didn’t tell me what I did wrong, and now I am paranoid that there’s something wrong with me. Yet if nobody tells me, how can I improve? I know I’m not perfect, but I also know I am not stupid, not useless and can do things better than many others. What do I need to do so that I can just get on with the job and stop worrying? It’s a waste of time, a waste of energy, despite what some management "geniuses" may think.
So right now I wouldn’t mind a holiday. A chance to leave this stress behind for a week and just appreciate the world without worrying.
Oh well, that’s not going to happen for a while. So I’ll just have to fight back and bring some sense into CSIRO websites. No rest for the wicked.