Am I in the Wrong Field?

Since my post yesterday about the importance of websites to museums, I’ve been thinking. A dangerous thing, I know.

But it’s made me wonder: should I be doing web development instead of history and anthropology?

As I said yesterday, it’s become evident that I know far more about the online environment and computers in general than anyone I work with. I asked my boss this morning about an error I was getting on the server when I went to back-up my database, and her response? She came back to show me how to click on “Help” on a Windows-based PC to look up my question.

I’d already tried that, Genius, or I WOULDN’T HAVE ASKED. I’m not retarded, but thanks.

I end up being the one who figures out a SQL command to update our database. I have had to help my boss map network drives because she didn’t know how and seemed impressed that I knew how to do this. I’m the one that my coworker (singular) comes to when she can’t print to a network printer or figure out our ancient membership database. And I’ve added ports to my computer at work, even though my boss strictly forbade it because she thought I would break it. Just because you have no idea how to do something doesn’t mean the rest of us are equally unskilled. She thought it was a waste of my time and efforts to try to figure out why our networked copier can’t be our shared office printer, even though she refuses to replace my empty printer cartridges because it costs too much money. (I’ve been printing on another office machine that hasn’t run out of toner. Yet.) And she doesn’t understand why we need software like Adobe Creative Suite to do stuff like exhibit design, the creation of text panels, and layout of brochures and newsletters. She’s astonished that I know “complex” databases designed specifically for managing museum collections and has no idea why she should care that I know some HTML or what open source software is. She can’t make heads or tails out of the Google Sketchup I did of the museum’s exhibit layouts. She doesn’t know the difference between a GIF and a JPEG and couldn’t care less about why it matters in archiving digital information.

Yet I feel completely out of it and behind the times when it comes to technology. I try to keep up, thumbing through Wired, sifting through stuff online, or hitting the bookstore when I need to know something more in-depth and complicated, like how to work with Layers in Illustrator. My brother definitely knows way more about this stuff than I do, and my mom knows more about several applications than I could ever learn. But maybe it’s all relative. Among geniuses and trained IT professionals, I’m simply a moron. But among these rubes, I’m Super Techno-Geek Supreme. Makes me think a lot about switching fields, getting a little more training to certify my skill set and jumping from museums into stuff that pays something other than Monopoly Money. If nothing else, it’s tempting to consider that all of this hard work and long hours that seem to go unnoticed here by the Boss could be put to use where I might actually get recognition for all of the skillsets I bring to the table. And even more tempting when you consider that steep terrain that lies ahead not just in this woefully underfunded and understaffed museum but in the nonprofit world in general. I’m seriously considering making a big switch…

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