Book Review: Women In Tech


This is the book you need to buyIt’s been a while since I wrote a book review, mostly because I’ve been reading fiction and history, neither of which really fit this blog. However I just finished a book that definitely deserves a review, Women In Tech.

First, the TLDR: Read the book!

Women in Tech was written by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack in conjunction with women drawn from across the tech world. It is a blend of a career guidebook and inspirational stories written by women from different backgrounds. Each woman has made their unique mark in the industry.

Before I get much further with this review, it must be noted that as a man, I am not the primary target for this book. That is not to say I didn’t gain value from reading it. Far from it.

I learned a lot and enjoyed reading the book. Women in Tech is well written, humorous at times, and I highly recommend it for anyone in the tech industry. One last note, as women were the primary audience, my perspective on the book should be considered in that light.

Mapping the Career Stages

The book is structured as a series of chapters providing practical advice for navigating the different phases of a career in technology. It has a definite startup-culture view for much of the book. Even so, most of the career advice applies to the tech world that I’ve dealt with in my career over on the east coast.

There is some specific advice for women on how to remain on equal footing with men in the tech world. It is based on behavioral differences between average men and women in the space. However if you are a man who is less assertive, the advice will be helpful to you as well. Additionally, it will help managers better understand women, and others, who do not fit their mental model of a techie.

Quick tip, there is no single model.

One example is the section on how to negotiate for salary. As a whole, women negotiate their salary less often then men do. The book goes in depth as to why women, or anyone, should try to negotiate their salary. It provides several tips on how to actually do it. It is well thought out. To be honest, I wish I had read that chapter a couple decades ago.

Inspiring Viewpoints

Between each chapter is a story from one of the contributing authors. Each faced their own challenges and the stories line-up fairly well with the phase of the career that is being discussed.

The women contributing stories are Angie Chang, Katie Cunningham, Keren Elazari, Miah Johnson, Kristin Toth Smith, Kamilah Taylor, and Brianna Wu. I was following several of them on Twitter before reading the book. Now I am following all of them. I highly recommend you do the same.

Reading their stories helps to build awareness of what others have gone through. The perspectives are different than mine and that is what makes the stories valuable. The stories are recommended reading for everyone. Especially men.

But I’m a Guy…

As I’ve stated, throughout the book there is advice that only applies to women. The cheap way out would be to advise men to read the book and just gloss over those paragraphs. That would be a mistake.

The advice that applies to women is important to read. It helps men better understand what our women coworkers have to deal with during their career. From stories I’ve heard from friends and colleagues, women face a lot more challenges, challenges created by others, than those discussed in the book.

At the end of the book, there is a chapter written for men. How to Be an Ally and How to Help is an important chapter. I am not going to try and summarize as the chapter should be read in full. The subject headings from the chapter are:

  • Start The Ball Rolling
  • Women Are Not Décor
  • Watch Out For That Unconscious Bias
  • Be Deliberate
  • OMG Pregnancy OMG
  • Leading People Who Don’t Look Like You

Get the Book

If you are a man, read Women in Tech. Learn what is happening that you may be unaware of. Use the book as a starting point to learn more.

If you are a woman, read it and share. I’d be interested in what you think of the book. Could it have done more? Was it perfect? That is an answer that I cannot provide.

If you are a techie, read the book. You will learn something that will help you in your career. Promise.

Information Governance, Moving on from Content


Has Content build holding us prisoner, making us miss the bigger picture?When I dove into the debate on Content Services and ECM, my conclusion was fairly straightforward.

Look at your information flow. Follow it and find new ways to make it flow faster. If you can do that and know where your information is at anytime, you are done.

There is a lot of detail buried under that relatively straightforward statement. Content Services is part of a broader trend in the content management space and is here to stay. It has been here since CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) entered the picture almost a decade ago but now people are seeing it as more than a way to integrate systems.

The problem is that ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is still just part of the picture. Even if we use the latest tools without regard to the latest buzz words that define them. If we just focus on the content we are failing to solve what needs to be solved.

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ECM, Content Services, or Just Doing It?


"It's deja-vu all, all over again." - Yogi BerraRecently, Gartner issued a note announcing The Death of ECM and Birth of Content Services. This has been met with several, mixed responses. Many pointed out to Gartner that many of us have been talking about this for years. I wrote a post on Content Services, Not ECM back in 2013. Going even further back, the concept of Content Services is core to Content Management Interoperability Services. In 2009 I outlined the three fundamental use cases for CMIS, or any content service.

I could spend all day linking to old posts but I want to take some time to bring something new to the discussion. A lot has changed over the years and perspectives have been refined. The last few days have seen my mind wandering and debating this whole topic in my spare, and not so spare, time.

Let me sum it up for you, it is a false dichotomy. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is not a thing you buy. It should not be taken into isolation. Content Services is useless as a replacement as it is completely different.

Let me break this down.

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Revisiting the Content Management Frontier


Scene from the movie Alive, dead bodies in the snowTwo years ago, a journal was discovered while excavating in the Trough of Disillusionment of Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies. The journal told a story of fear, distrust, and desperation.

Today another tome was discovered. Written hastily in the margins of an IDOL manual was the following text. It is estimated that this was written two days after the conclusion of the previously discovered journal (which you should read 1st). The author is unknown.

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Saying Goodbye to Documentum


One year ago, when Dell announced it was buying EMC, I wrote,

If you see Open Text or CA buy the ECD, start lighting the funeral pyres because Documentum would be officially brain dead and waiting for the machines to be turned off.

Well, it happened. OpenText acquired Documentum. This brings to end the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) wars that began almost 20 years ago. Back then, the leaders were FileNet, Documentum, Oracle, and OpenText. FileNet is buried at IBM who is flirting with Box. Oracle is struggling to reestablish itself after bringing on former Documentum leaders but they are fading away.

This morning, OpenText announced their acquisition of Documentum. I was hesitant to predict that OpenText was going to buy Documentum. It was the obvious prediction and I knew that it would be a chunk of change. $1.62 billion was the final price which covers the $600 million OpenText raised in May and another billion of debt commitment provided by Barclays for this transaction.

I suspect that nobody else was willing to pay EMC that much.

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What is an Information Professional?


Beaker from the MuppetsOne thing I heard from MANY people at the AIIM conference was that the concept of an information professional as we understand it was flawed. The claim was that usage patterns of AIIM resources showed that members would join and engage to tackle a single project. Once that project was completed, they would leave AIIM and presumably go do something else that wasn’t information related. John Mancini, the outgoing CEO of AIIM, shared his thoughts on the current information professional in a four post series covering the history, evolution, environment, and future of the information professional.

Experience tells me that the conclusion is incorrect. There are a large number of people who spend careers in the space and dip into AIIM resources only periodically. It is also a conclusion is hard to confirm or deny because once they disengage from AIIM, it is tough to measure what people do next.

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FOIA, Email, Clinton, and the State Department


Clinton speaking at the Brown & Black Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, January 11, 2016.A recent piece of FOIA news was brought to my attention by Ann Snyder over at the Information Governance Initiative. The legacy of Hilary Clinton running her own email server is growing. It seems that the U.S. Department of State has stated that it will take 75 years to release the emails of Hilary Clinton’s aides from her time as Secretary of State.

Let that sink in. 75 years. Not days, YEARS!!!

They then go on to give some outrageous estimates based upon processing only 500 pages per month. I’ve been working with the Federal government for years and have worked on many FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) systems. To understand how ridiculous this is, let’s examine an agency where I’ve been looking at FOIA closely this year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

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