SQLServerCentral Editorial

The Human Factor


A week ago I was in Pasadena attending the SCaLE 20x conference, a gathering of many different open-source communities discussing the technologies and platforms that draw them together. I was fortunate enough to hear some excellent presentations on PostgreSQL and give two talks as well. After the first round of talks on Friday morning a friend walked over and asked if I had heard about the bank Silicon Valley Bank failure yet. "Yes," I replied, "I have a lot of friends in the open-source community that I'm sure will be impacted. The next few days will certainly be difficult to watch as I think of what's ahead for them."

Then on Tuesday, just a few days later, OpenAI announced ChatGPT-4, a significantly updated multimodal system with increased AI capabilities. At many levels it is impressive to see what can be done with these new capabilities. For instance, I enjoyed seeing Marco Russo from SQLBI.com have a bit of a sparing match with the new model trying write DAX code.

Just days apart, these two events will have far-reaching effects on many aspects of the technology communities we are a part of.

You know the saying, "life comes at you fast!"

Don't worry. This isn't an editorial about bank collapses or how AI is going to take over our jobs and the world. (Whew!)

Instead, I was struck by a mostly overlooked similarity in each story. Both headlines, the SVB collapse and ChatGPT-4, can't be separated from the importance of human experience. Neither of them can be separated from real people, with an understanding of real systems, using real data. Likewise, the experience that we each bring to the table helps us understand if a course correction is needed in a specific situation, or if the information we're receiving is missing a critical piece. When we take it one step further and begin to use that experience to teach others how do to the same thing, the overall system improves and our community gets stronger.

As a data professional involved in a few different technical communities, that encourages me tremendously.

I see so many examples of folks giving generously of their time and experience to help others learn and grow, both in-person and online. The conferences I've had an opportunity to attend so far this year have been life giving, well run, and well attended. I'm excited to see how things continue to evolve for the remainder of 2023.

What about you?

  • If you're physically able, have you started to get involved with a user group or conference again?
  • Have you offered to share what you've learned in the last few months with others at work?
  • Have you considered recording a video demonstrating that new trick you've learned and sharing it with the world?
  • Have you considered contributing a blog post to either T-SQL Tuesday or PGSQL Phriday sometime this year?

We may not be able to solve all of the world's problems or stop banks from collapsing, but working together and sharing our experience with others can help improve the human side of the equation, which in turn increases the likelihood of building successful, sustainable systems we enjoy.

Let's get at it, together!



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