Congratulations, reader, you're now an IT "expert!"

IT is a field that is full of "experts." An "expert" is any old IT guy (or gal (ok, fine, guy)) that meets the minimum requirement for being called an "expert" — he refers to himself as one. The nice thing about calling yourself an "expert" is that all non-IT people will believe you! An "expert" is different than an Expert, though. An Expert is a real expert, while the cocky knownothing guy sitting next to you is an "expert." Jeffrey worked with an "expert."

Jeffrey's coworker, who we'll call "Dr. Ebenezer E. Expert Esquire, PhD," blurred the lines between Experts and "experts." He had some impressive real-world qualifications: a PhD in engineering and a long history at the company, not to mention all the arrogance and laziness of a typical academic. Jeffrey had to deal with Ebenezer on a regular basis; they shared a cube.

The final straw came when a competent coworker asked Ebenezer how his deliverable was coming along. Ebenezer threw up his hands and started yelling. All of these people are so unprofessional! he shouted, I'll have it done five times faster than everyone; I'm an optimization expert!

It was time for a test. Jeffrey intended to find out just how much of an expert his PhD-carrying coworker was. Noticing that recent emails from Ebenezer resembled the output from SCIgen, Jeffrey got an idea. If you're not familiar, SCIgen is an application that generates technical research papers. Of course, its output is all meaningless gibberish, but if you're not paying attention and just skim over its output, it seems like a real, well-researched work. Anyone who knows anything about IT, though, would realize it was garbage after a single paragraph.

Jeffrey kept clicking the "Generate" button on SCIgen until he got gold: "Lossless, Virtual Information for E-Business" (click for full article, PDF). Here's an abstract:

Many cryptographers would agree that, had it not been for the evaluation of the location-identity split, the exploration of Moore's Law might never have occurred. Given the current status of interposable theory, biologists particularly desire the exploration of active networks, which embodies the robust principles of algorithms. We concentrate our efforts on confirming that IPv4 and expert systems are often incompatible [1].

Jeffrey printed it up and dropped it on the PhD's desk with a sticky note that read "This paper looks interesting. Do you think the author makes any good points?"

The papers generated by SCIgen should be easy for anyone in IT to spot as fake. Not Ebenezer, though. Not even the references to UNIVAC in the paper clued him in. Ebenezer sat in silence, absorbing every gibberish word of the gibberish paper, highlighting gibberish words for 30 gibberish minutes.

When Ebenezer had finished, Jeffrey asked him what his opinion was. "It's brilliant!" replied Ebenezer. "It's the natural progression of all the ideas I presented in my incredibly insightful PhD thesis!" He then showed Jeffrey the first two pages of his most recent papers, citing the parallels between his paper and the SCIgen one.

Jeffrey didn't have the heart to tell Ebenezer that his ideas are precisely as insightful as those randomly generated by a computer — that's a lesson that the "expert" will have to learn on his own.

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