From Luddite to Sysadmin…?


“sysadmins are the secret masters of the universe, and they keep your life running.” says Cory Doctorow, writing about his short story, “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth“. A post apocalyptic tale where the aforementioned sysadmins are the unlikely heroes, I was introduced to the comic book version on my phone by the Doctor @pdavenne, in fact a comic book was the only way I was going to read about bloody sysadmins.

So how is it that a once proud Luddite like myself would be contemplating acquiring the wierd and wonderful skillset of the sysadmin?

As I take more resposibility for where my online stuff is located, who can get access to my data, my operating system (windows > OSX > Linux), I’m constantly having to learn new things, and just as moving to Linux was inevitable for idealogical reasons, it follows that the only way I’ll be “happy” with using a server is when I’ve got full control over it. I’m lucky to be surrounded with incredibly smart people who can, and often do, do all this stuff for me, but it’s my stuff and my responsibility.

Many free services that people have been depending upon in recent years have been shut down, sold off, change their terms & conditions without consideration for the user or are simply cases of digital sharecropping. The latest, greatest, ones of course being Google announcing the closing of their popular RSS Reader service, Twitter buying Posterous and shutting it down, and Twitter (again) changing the use of their API which will effectively destroy many of the 3rd party services built on it which contributed so much to popurlarisng it in the first place.

So I’m pretty much done with sharecropping for these companies – so much of what I do, of what everyone does these days, is on a server somewhere out there, surrounded, as Julian Oliver often points out, “by guns, dirt, tax and shareholders”. It’s time to take control of that server and skill up.

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