Tuesday, November 15, 2005

MIS Degree

Over on Code Craft, Kevin describes Three Theories on How to Use Developers Effectively. He describes theories by really smart techies, really smart business people, and the theory of interchangable parts. What does this have to do with MIS degrees you ask? Well, an MIS degree holds to the theory of interchangable parts. The person who seeks out the MIS degree doesn't have a specialty. He is not super technical, nor is he a business man. Instead, he spent one to two years studying different domains. While learning is always useful, I can't imagine how those two years wouldn't have been better spent learning the domain of the company for which you work, or learning the domain of the tools which you will use to solve those problems.

I must say that I understand the temptation. When I finished my bachelor's degree, I thought about getting a business degree because I wanted to help people solve their problems. However, I would have gotten an MBA because that would have given me enough details to understand the domain of the people whose problems I wish to solve. Paul Graham once said that a metaphore is a function applied to an argument of the wrong type. Specializing in technology, pursuing an MS or Ph.D. is designed to give you additional functions and additional types on which to build metaphores. Specializing in business, pursuing an MBA, is designed to do the same thing. Getting an MIS is an attempt to get you more comfortable with the functions and types you already know, which is not nearly as important to me.

If you're going to learn it, then specialize, you can always back up and be a generalist later, but your generalizations will be a lot more correct if you understand the specializations that determine them.

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