The modern Technologist- Craftman and Craftwoman!
During my days pursuing a degree in Philosophy, I found the thoughts of Continental Philosophers of the 19th and 20th century really resonated with me- works from Fredrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger really have become the foundation of how I view the world around me and having been a professional technical recruiter over the last 6 years, I have had the opportunity to apply these learnings recruiting Technology professionals. From the list above, I would say that the works of Heidegger are most relevant to my profession.
Martin Heidegger was a seminal philosopher of 20th century Existential Philosophy, best known for his work “Being and Time” however, he is also a very controversial figure as he taught during the Nazi regime and joined the Nazi party to further his career in Academia (as well as for self-preservation). Some academics dismiss his works for this reason but for me, I’ve always had a pragmatic perspective to not throw the baby out with the bathwater and also try to wrap my head around the situation he was living in (historical context). With that being said, I don’t want to focus on Being and Time nor on his Nazi affiliation but rather on the content of one of his first lectures I was introduced to- the Question Concerning Technology- and humanity’s post-modern relationship with technology.
So how does a mid 20th Century German Philosopher teachings apply to a Tech Recruiter in the 21st Century? As a Tech Recruiter, I’ve spoken with many technologists and aspiring technologists with the goal of understanding the person’s philosophy and relationship with and towards technology. Those who have been able to articulate this, usually end up being someone who I present to a hiring manager@. From a recruitment perspective, while I make it a point to understand the persons skills, experience and fit for the role implicitly, in every conversation, I also try to understand the persons applications and use of ‘Technology’; does this person view technology as an enabler and tool to create a better society or make their end-users lives better and what is his/her relationship to technology- how do they stay on top of emerging technology and are they ahead of the curb when it came to the application of new technology or was it something they got into because it is trendy and pays well (what academic philosophy describes as instrumental reasoning viewing technology as a means to an end)
Back to Heidegger then; Heidegger describes ‘Technology’ as an instrument and an activity and it has taken many years for me to realize that both of these are the essence of being a great Technologist- someone who can utilize technology as a tool to do something impactful and simultaneously hone technique to continually improve. It is important to recognize that to be a great “Technologist” it is not limited to the field of writing code as a software engineer or full-stack development; one can be a Technologist in any field if she or he has a passion for their craft. In fact, the word Technology, etymologically speaking, comes from the Greek words Techne and Logos which roughly translates out to Technique and Language or the “language of technique” Continuing on the etymology tract, the word Philosophy breaks down to Philia and Sophy which translates to “love of knowledge” So, if someone becomes an expert in the philosophy of their craft, commonly recognized with the designation of Ph.D (the Ph.D. standing for a Doctorate of Philosophy) they are recognized as being a having a passion to learning and acquiring knowledge in a particular field or as being a subject matter expert in this field. However, a talented Technologist doesn’t stop after graduating! Rather, they are continually practicing and investigating ways to hone his or her craft. So on one hand, they are masters of the tools or instruments within their craft and simultaneously they are also learning and innovating to get better at their craft.