November 15, 2015

Next Steps

I've reached a sort of capstone with my career.

I currently manage about 20 people on a contract with a division of the Department of Justice.  While not necessarily the perfect man for the job, I do fairly well and I still get to involve myself in technical decisions on a day to day basis.  I get to preach from my pulpit about the way that things 'should be done' and complain about the lack of resources we have to do things properly.  In all, I like my job. I've also applied for the job of Chief Information Security Officer [CISO] at the same agency, and have completed the interviews, awaiting a decision and negotiation to see whether or not they wish to have me join the federal work force, and whether I can accept the job for their offer.  Let's assume, for the moment, that they give me the job.

What next?  What comes of my career, my hopes and dreams and everything else when I've met my life's goals?  To become an executive IT officer, to have a stable job, to be able to afford a reasonable middle-class lifestyle without amassing debt, to have opportunities to continue to learn about interesting things, to have a grown child of whom I'm proud.  It seems that I have accomplished all of these things and the question is going to require some thought about the nature of life, lifestyles and goal-driven life.

Willy Wonka: But Charlie, don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted.
Charlie Bucket: What happened?
Willy Wonka: He lived happily ever after.

Um, great...but I'm not done...and I know I'm not going to live 'ever after'.  I still have at least another 30 years to go on this Earth, 40 or more if I start taking care of myself a little bit better.  Now that I'm approaching the pinnacles of Maslow's pyramid, I find myself wondering what my contribution will be to the world.

Well --- I have a few ideas.....

1. Information Security - The world needs an easier way.  The more that Infosec has solidified itself as a discipline, the more I've noticed a struggle in the educational realm for thought above and beyond the mechanics of the field.  There is need for thinking above and beyond the vulnerability of the day and the wow factor of discovering yet another amplification attack buried in the hidden recesses of a long-forgotten protocol.  I have been thinking that what is needed is a visual model for applying information security to systems.  It has to be simple enough for systems analysts to actually use and understand, but flexible enough to delve deep into the multiple layers and facets of system design.  We need something formal, but something that can be taught in one semester.  

2. Self-sufficiency - The world has undergone a creeping change since the Industrial Revolution.  The change is pointing us away from mechanical life support and back to finding self-sufficient means, such as unplugging from 'the grid', growing our own food, taking care of ourselves instead of allowing the machined existence dictate our flavorless lives.  I'm just getting started in this field, but I have always been fascinated by how you can plant a seed and from it grows fruit and vegetables within a matter of a month or two.  Aquaponics is definitely something that I want to explore and may be able to eventually contribute to, and has the potential to ensure that we can continue to feed the human race even as our current farming methods become unsustainable.  They're doing amazing things in Japan with indoor hydroponic farming.  I'd like to replicate their successes on smaller scale and in a 'community' atmosphere.

3. Information Technology Education - IT is a large field and has many practice areas.  We used to think of Computer Science as one simple thing, but the field has exploded.  Of course, that means that the education that we provide to newcomers in the field is more spread out amongst the disciplines, and that we haven't had time to teach and focus on the importance of the basics.  I would love to contribute to a solution to this, and to find the time to develop and market these solutions to train the neophytes.  Making it interesting enough to keep their attention when the blinking lights and fun sounds of the web are grabbing their attention will likely be one of the greater challenges.

So, there's three things I've set for myself, and they're goals I couldn't have thought of spending time on until now.  I hope that everything turns out well with this potential change in my life and that I have the opportunity to change the world.

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