About The Theory of Wizard versus Guru

I’ve spent more than thirty years as an IT / MIS / DP / “techie”.  I was *there*, more-or-less, when people began using the term “guru” to refer to the specialists who were becoming established around the edges of the field.

For myself, I always preferred to be known as a wizard.  (adAPOLOGYvance for the possibly sexist wording in the following, but remember much of what I am regurgitating here was originally formulated before Politically Correct speech/writing had fully taken hold.)  My thinking was this:  the guru sits on a mountaintop, people come to him or send messengers, and he spouts answers that may or may not actually be immediately useful to the supplicant parties.  The wizard, on the other manipulative appendage, may also have a remote abode and all that, but he actually gets down and dirty in the delivery of any assistance that he provides.  He engages directly with the problem (those pesky fireballs, or application programs, have a limited range, after all), he deals directly with the affected parties (can’t charm the socks off of the fair lady from half the world away, or install a new monitor sitting in the equipment cage), and there are immediate consequences to himself if he gets things wrong (the fireball blows up in his face, or the angry villagers run him out of town…).

In the IT arena particularly, I much prefer being thought of as a wizard.  I like the personal contact, I want to see people enjoying the solutions that I build, and I always have felt better knowing that those solutions are more likely to do what they were intended to do in the long term if I could look my users directly in the eye and ask “What does it need to do differently to make it easier for you to use?” — even when / especially when I have to explain to them why some requested feature can’t be included for whatever reason.

Yes, I admit it:  I take particular glee in pointing the Finger of Doom at outdated, inflexible, or otherwise bone-headed Corporate Policies and Technical Limitations.  I also often have found myself more closely sympathizing with hostage data entry clerks hampered by designs dictated by limits imposed in the dark age of original conversion from paper forms to slavish electronic replication in an era of text-only displays and inflexible screen design.  The delight on so many faces in the advanced trenches when I or my team could deliver even early excursions into WYSIWYG with proportional fonts, flexible data fields (“Look Pa!  more than 80 characters to a memo record!”), and user-written queries made my heart glad.

Oh, yeah.  That reminds me of another benefit for the wizard:  he’s on-hand when the celebration commences after the dragon-slaying / successful application update installation.  Poor old guru is still stuck out on his mountain and may find leftovers in the break room after the ravening hordes have passed on by.

Now, back to the process of updating myself from wizard to Bard…

Comments?  Brickbats?  Other stuff?  Message me using the contact form below!


3 thoughts on “About The Theory of Wizard versus Guru

  1. masterbard

    Dear Mike/Blackeagle/Wizardly One:

    Delightful co-incidence; I am also updating myself – from bard to Bard. I am creating a bardic website to launch early next year, and am busy in the transitional period of writing, composing, and preparing for it.

    I am pleased to discover that you blog, among your many other talents! I encountered your name just the other day at the top of an excellent piece of literary research titled “What Is a Bard?” I would very much like permission to quote (with whatever changes to the attributions you would like to see) the following passage from your article, defining a Bard’s various (though not comprehensive!) duties:

    “As an (expanded) extract, consider that a “true Bard” might have been called upon to fulfill ANY of the task‑names which are shown in the following list at some point in his career: go‑between, judge, neutral party, arbitrator, law‑keeper (NOT — usually — law‑*giver*), satirist, saga‑singer, poet, musician, herald (particularly in some cultures in the sense of “the voice of the King”, or ambassador), story‑teller, composer of music, maker of riddles, teller of parables, historian, herbalist / healer, newsman, news commentator, messenger, teacher, student, priest, warrior, linguist, craftsman, record‑keeper, genealogist, military scout, spy, etc.”

    “What Is a Bard’, originally published 1994, revised 2003, by Amr ibn Majid al‑Bakri al‑Amra (Mike C. Baker)

    I am happy to hotlink your name to your blog, as well. Feel free to leave a response/comment on my blog, a message to ‘Bard Judith’ on Facebook (only one choice) or email me directly at masterbard (at) poetic (dot) com!

    Judy Alkema

    1. kihebard Post author

      Judith, I must apologize for my relative absence of late — “Life Happens … sometimes, with great insistence on PAYING ATTENTION”.

      Absolutely have my permission to quote-with-attribution; link(s) appreciated!

  2. Ryan Williamson

    I’ve always preferred smithing tools for my immediate team to shipping commercial software for the same reasons. Part of it is instant gratification, sure; but mostly it’s the instant gratification.


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