This is a guest post by vExpert Andrea Mauro, VCDX, vExpert 2013
Usually (especially in Country like mine) we common talk about the Digital divide that bring not equity, or at least not same opportunity, between different group. But this is mainly focused on the connectivity aspects and how accessing to broadband networks could be different and limited for somebody. But this it’s only one aspect and there are also others that must be considered!
The Country Divide
The first one that I want to describe it’s the Country divide, mainly related and intended to the geographic position. Partially it could also be related to the previous Digital divide (because broadband access usually depends by geographic aspects), but it also could limit in different ways: first to all how could be difficult and/or costly moving, found job opportunities, attend to events (but also certifications or other activities) and so on. For example, for me that I leave in Italy (in a small town) take a certification or attend to an event meant (at least) 2-3 hours in travels to move to biggest cities like Milan; that also mean other addition costs related to travel’s expense. But worst it’s of high level certifications, like VCDX (or MCM) where you need more outside your Country and this could really limit the access to this level of certifications. Same apply of international events, like for example the VMworld editions. And this does not increase only the travel expense, but require also more time, and maybe bring also possible logistic issues (for example VISA or similar authorizations).
I think that does not change too much also if you leave in US (or other places), but in a small town not well served with a good airport or transports. In all cases we are talking about a Geographic divide.
You can effort this in different ways: for travel expense you can look at sponsors or contents (for example vDestination has given a really good opportunity to attend at the VMworld US!), use the “explorer spirit” and take the opportunity (when travel require a lot of time) to visit new cities (of visit them again and better a), have also part of your holiday, bring your family or other options. When I’ve engaged the VCDX path (where, at the beginning, also for the VCAP exam I had to travel outside my Country) I took with this spirit and use this challenge to attend to my first VMworld EU (at Cannes) for the DCA exam, to visit Madrid for the DCD exam and to attend my first VMware PEX (and also visit Las Vegas for the first time) for the VCDX defense.
So for this aspect, unless you least in the “IT poles”, you cannot do more expect don’t use as an excuse: it could be a limitation, but several other people are on the same boat, so try to get the best opportunity as you can.
The Language Divide
There are also other limitations related to the Country: mostly the language and the cultural aspects.
The Language divide of course it’s (or could be) a limitation for all not English native guys, considering that English it’s almost the “official” (I can say, in other terms, the “de facto” standard) language in the IT field. Some Countries are protecting and/or endorsing their languages, like Germany, France and Spain. But this, that it’s usually good, could become a double-edged sword because could increase the IT gap. Honestly I think that it’s really necessary to have also “localized IT”, at least for several contents, and initiative like vLATAM or localized VCDX defenses (just to bring two examples) are really important and valuable.
But this also can increase the gap for Counties with minor languages (although this could shift more the discussion on the cultural aspect). Maybe it’s neither necessary in this other cases have localized IT contents. I could bring the example of my blog: it’s both in Italian and English. The interesting aspect is that, for the site stats, access from US are more than 50% (ok, they are more, but it’s remain really impressive). But the funny aspect is that Italian access is only third (second place is for German)! So it’s not so strange that other Italian bloggers are focusing (mainly) on the English part of their site (or are blogging only in English). Anyway I still think that localized contents are sometimes necessary, but English in IT remain (and must be) the primary language. So try to improve it! My regrets are that I haven’t like it during the school and now I’ve not so much time to refine it (especially in the spoken part, were I remain almost weak). Language could be a limitation, for example in (international) speech opportunities, in technical whitepapers or books, in courses and so on. But this it’s almost up to you: try to do your best and bring original content in your language, but in any case found how to improve your English.
The Cultural Divide
The other Country related limit is the Cultural divide. This probably could be worst one (I’ve exchange several opinions about it with other Italian VMUG people) because it could also reflect the Country “image” or the Country “weight” and for sure this influence the job opportunities and all the other IT related opportunities! Let’s took Italy as an example: it’s well consider in food and fashion (just to take two simple examples), but not in IT. And it’s funny because we have also do a lot of innovation and part of the history (just to give to examples least consider the microchip creator or the excellence represented by Olivetti in its golden age). But we have also miss several buses with a lot of brains drain and also several industrial and strategic mistakes (one of all is that Acorn, now ARM, was an Olivetti subsidiary !). So which are the (IT) opportunities in a Country with this kind of cultural divide? Probably less than other Countries and I know several guys that are now in other Countries… Could be simple say that we have to stay and make some changes locally, but sometimes it’s not possible (and for sure it’s not easy and fast). Cultural aspects are also strictly related to generations and (at least in Italy) we need we generations that think in a different way.
The Generation Divide
This bring also the Age divide aspect. It’s clear that new generations (especially the Generation Y ) have several advantages: they can use new technologies faster than other people (included my generation). But do they really learn something about it? There are two different aspects to be considered. If you are just a user (or a consumer) you do not really to understand how does it work, you have only to be able to use it in the fastest and profitable (of efficient) way. But if you are involved in some of the IT aspects you have also to understand something technical. Lot of young people are talented about this, but I don’t think that there is much difference comparing my generation (or others). Remain a big changes that facilitate new generations: now you have more opportunity to found or share information, have access and test the technologies!
As a final consideration, is there also a Gender divide? Male and female must have the same opportunity, but the IT (or at least some part of it) does not reflect an equal subdivision. I think that there isn’t any kind of divide in this area, but I don’t have an explanation of the non-equity. Probably some fields, like system administration, are more attractive for male. To really conclude let’s bring another aspect that it’s not strictly related to the IT, but on the social part induced by it: is there (or there could) a Dietary divide? Sounds like a joke (and it’s used in this way in our VMUG, during the vBeers, for our teetotal guy), but there are also serious aspects (considering for example people with allergies). Anyway vBeers or other social activities are manly of meet people and exchange experience, not (only) for eat or drink.
About the Author
Andrea Mauro has worked in IT since 1996 and holds several certifications (vExpert 2010/2011/2012/2013, VCP, VCAP, VCDX, MCITP, MCSA, MCSE, CCA). He works as a virtualization and storage architect, specializing in VMware (but also Microsoft, Citrix and Linux) solutions. CIO of Assyrus Srl, a small Italian IT company (founded on 2000). VMware Italian User Group founder and board member, VMTN Community Moderator, Backup Academy professor, passionate blogger, runs his personal blog vinfrastructure.it(both in Italian and English).