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System administrator appreciation day and invisible colleagues

Our IT guys send an email with a gentle reminder that today is a System administrator appreciation day. A quote from the web-site:

A sysadmin is a professional, who plans, worries, hacks, fixes, pushes, advocates, protects and creates good computer networks, to get you your data, to help you do work — to bring the potential of computing ever closer to reality.

So if you can read this, thank your sysadmin — and know she is only one of dozens or possibly hundreds whose work brings you the email from your aunt on the West Coast, the instant message from your son at college, the free phone call from the friend in Australia, and this webpage.

Friday, July 28th, 2006, is the 7th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day. On this special international day, give your System Administrator something that shows that you truly appreciate their hard work and dedication.

Having read a lot on invisible work and coming from working environments where lots of things I had to do myself I’m starting to realised how much “overhead” or “infrastructure” work can be easily taken for granted. Secretaries, sysadmins, information specialists and many others internally called “support stuff” keep me working on what I do best, providing a space where I’m not bothered with many “non-core” small things. I go to them only if things break or I need an extra something. If things work their efforts is so invisible, that they can easily become non-existent.

Just an example: talking to a colleagues running our information center I realised how much work she has to do “behind the scenes” to make sure that I can access all those papers from online databases. I find something, click and access the source not knowing that that the only reason I can do it is that my IP address sits in some contract that gives us access to some database. I don’t have to bother about contracts and databases, budget and legal negotiations, technical details – I can just get the paper and continue to work on my own stuff.

So, once in a while it could make sense to think about your “invisible colleagues” and do something to let them know that their work is important for you – appreciate your sysadmins, worship a librarian or give flowers to a secretary.

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2006/07/28.html#a1809; comments are here.

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