Do you work with tech or in tech?

miniatures on real hard drive

What is the difference between working with tech or working in tech?

While the difference may be obvious, there are ways of working that depend on the answer to whether you work with or in tech. Why does knowing this matter?

Working with tech

To begin answering the first question, working with tech means that you use tech as a tool to help solve problems.

Examples are:

  • A graphic designer who uses Photoshop or other software to design stuff.
  • A blogger who uses WordPress to build and design blogs.
  • A researcher who uses Google or other search engines to research a topic.
  • A database manager who uses SQL to create and manage databases.
  • A land surveyor who uses GPS to collect survey data.
  • Anyone at all who uses a computer to do any work at all (and here, computer is meant in the most general sense as something with a CPU and graphical interface, so includes tablets & smart phones).

If you work in a first world country (which you most likely do if you are reading this blog!), you probably work with tech.

Working in tech

If you work in tech, that means that you use tech by tweaking it the way you need it so that it can solve a problem. Using tech this way requires you knowing fundamental tech principles. You must really understand the nuts and bolts. You may even change the way a particular technology works to suit your purpose.

It’s a subtle difference sometimes. Examples of working in tech are:

four pairs of hands working

Why does it matter?

Why do you need to know if you work with tech or in tech?

Well, for one thing, this blog is specifically for people who work in tech. I don’t mean in your job. You don’t necessarily have to work in tech as a job to get value from this blog. But, you should enjoy working in tech in your spare time. The reason I started this blog was because I was working in tech in my spare time.

Other than this blog though, there are other reasons to know the difference. If you work with tech, there’s not much reason to know how the tech works. I use search engines almost every day, but have very little knowledge of the algorithms driving them. Productivity depends on working quickly. If your tech doesn’t work properly, you call up an expert to fix it; you don’t try to figure it out for yourself. That would take too long. An expert can fix in 10 minutes something that would take you hours to research and understand. And this is all supposing you have the necessary tools to fix it. If you don’t, you have to go out and get them in addition to the researching and understanding.

Even when you work in tech, you need to recognize when a problem is not yours to solve. If you are a web designer, but a website is down due to forces beyond your control, that is not your problem to solve. It is the hosting platform’s responsibility to get the website back up and running.

It is important to understand the distinctions between working with tech and working in tech. Once you realize which problems are up to you to solve, and which aren’t, you can really increase your productivity.

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