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Citizen Coder? Happiness Concierge? Here come 2023's business cards

A pose by any other name would pay as sweet

Opinion Information technology has a long tradition of making up new job titles to emphasize how futuristic we all are. Who can forget IBM's Worldwide Head Of Objects?

And check LinkedIn for Evangelists, Jedis, Ninjas, Prophets, Gurus and other uncomfortable appropriations, often modified with cringe abstractions like Innovation, Conceptual, Fun or Future. There's even, Zarniwoop save us, Happiness Concierges. It is easy to mock, and we must be ruthless in that mockery.

Sometimes neologisms are necessary. The digital world, consumer and business, is unrecognizable from 20 years ago, and both it and our culture are struggling to absorb each new idea before the next one comes along. The cliche that your parents have no idea what you do is antediluvian; these days, it's often your co-workers who are mystified. So here are a handful of new job titles that have some claim to reflect the changing nature of IT development, infrastructure and deployment, the bits that matter at the heart of the industry. 

Citizen Codeherd. "The Year Of The Citizen Coder" has been predicted a few times now, but the concept has stuck. The huge range of online resources and support options means creative competence is available to anyone with the motivation to learn new skills, and that's been a big part of the FOSS story.

What FOSS needs is talented management, people whose talents include managing the expectations and egos in ad-hoc teams. It's not just FOSS, of course, that's an industry-wide lacuna:  it's much harder to find training and support in human skills than any programming language.

Like dentistry, migration hurts because it's always put off, and it's always put off because it's painful

Given the other perennial problem that SMEs have in finding permanent or agency talent to keep competitive in developing and delivering apps and services, there's an obvious connection to be made. Those who can create, motivate and steer teams of the otherwise unaffiliated will be able to create a global pool of up-to-date ability and match it to the needs for all sizes of organization project by project. 

FOSS will benefit because this will move resources into that community, and commercial outfits will have a much more nimble and flexible option for building new stuff that can interwork with permanent staff and agencies alike. 

Stack Auditor. Ah, migrations. The time when you absolutely have to pay off all that technical debt. Bullets are bitten, nettles grasped, and the magical realism of budgets and timetables invoked. The first stage of the laying on of hands is the tech audit of existing systems. Always surprising, often horrifying, it is something that has to be done. A report is written, a migration plan concocted, proofs of concept amplified into full-scale deployment, and everyone gets on with their lives. Until the next time. 

This is a bad habit, borne of the old days of departmental autonomy and the impenetrability of monolithic servers. It isn't sustainable, given the continuous cost implications of cloud. The days when you could build a plausible equation of capital expenditure plus licensing plus staff and kinda sorta know what your migration target would cost? Gone. Plus, many of the management benefits of cloud deployment of efficiencies through integration and continuous monitoring go away when the grand migration plan is finished and fragmentation sets in again.

Like dentistry, migration hurts because it's always put off, and it's always put off because it's painful. Now we have the flexibility of continuous development and web services, a regular stack audit across an organization will steer it away from the bad habits that make migrations necessary at all – an IT tooth brushing and flossing, if you will. 

Diffusion Architect. The concept of "the edge" has been as big a feature in corporate IT infrastructure as it has in Irish rock music, and it's just as outdated. It's easy to imagine the world as being built from core services run by central casting and edge concentrators where the user makes contact. Reality is far messier. 

With networks ever faster, end-to-end encryption, data sovereignty considerations, robustness, disaster recovery, and security management, there can be so many edges where aggregation and autonomous processing meet a particular need that the edge as an identifiable zone becomes as nebulous as it would when defining a city or a salt marsh. 

Think more of contemporary data architectures at scale as organic, with control and actionable information diffusing through multiple areas, localizing as required for particular tasks. Plenty of edges, not one edge. A user accessing a virtualized service in a secure zone deep within a data center will push their edge right into the core; indeed, if the model of user-curated security and personal data storage continues to develop, this becomes the central core for those. Where's the edge then?


The 40-Year-Old Version: ZX81's sleek plastic case shows no sign of middle-aged spread


In any case, it is inevitable that the great B2B tech marketing machine will cook up a post-edge set of principles to sell us all the next Big Thing. Might as well beat them to it. 

Task Nomenclature Reimagineer. You don't think all those new job titles invent themselves, do you? At the very peak of the priestly clan of marketeer-engineers whose hands grasp the secret levers of power in business technology, these elect few meet in virtual spaces that make the Metaverse look like the ZX81's 3D Monster Maze, and hand out each year's crop of job titles that almost, but not quite, fail to make any sense whatsoever. Aim high, young coder Jedi, and even this prize may be yours. Happy 2023. ®

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