Knowledge Hogs

Done well technical documentation can reduce calls to the support desk, ease user frustration and empower novices to build their skills with confidence through trial and error.  Not all documentation is equal as I have learned in the last week.  Rather spontaneously I decided that I would build a website of my own to host my WordPress blog.  Why? Because the counter balance to my creativity is my deeply analytical side.  Consequently this week I contemplated a journey to California to air my grievances.

So I register a domain name and find a hosting service as recommended by WordPress in their documentation which assures me that I can mix and match hosting and domain services.  As a novice I should have verified my assumption but ahead instead I charged.  Nothing elaborate, just connect the host to the domain, right? My first two years of college were at DeVry University where I studied programming so I’d like to feel that I had a clue.  The site with my domain name was easy to work with.  There were just two name servers I had to input and the rest was a formality.  Having a good dose of false confidence I proceeded forward.

ARRRRGGHHH!!!!  The hosting site was an example of minimalism.  Anyone knowing me though would know though when choosing the site I went off of three things first that WordPress recommended them, second the super cool name and lastly cool animal logo.  While I was great at programming and even taken to dreaming in code while in school at DeVry I ultimately decided to finish my studies in a school with the humanities and liberal arts, who would have guessed?  At least Indiana Jones had the guy telling him that he chose wisely in the search for the Holy Grail.  I had the technical documentation written by a bitter helpdesk staffer.

Word to the wise, if you’re hosting provider hides its phone number for technical questions DO NOT CLICK THE SHINY BUTTON!  My eagerness proved my downfall.  Choppy sentences referring to other sites greeted me at the FAQ’s.  Troubleshooting tips were absent so were if then statements for first time users.  Emails to the help desk asking for my server IP address were replied to with “We don’t understand what you’re asking for”.  It wasn’t until I found a site online where I could enter my site address and it spit out in a nanosecond what my IP was that I became a bit peeved.  Everything about the provider assured me that they in no uncertain terms hated beginners to this endeavor and sought to crush them with their indifference.

Not being deterred I transferred my site to another provider and it’s near operational now!  Being a beginner I am a lot of things and a hard worker and researcher is a couple of them.  As the internet was used mostly by academics in its founding so that they could share knowledge and keep the phone bills down it surprises me that the transfer of knowledge between a provider and their customer could exist in such a sorry state so many years later.  It’s not just an internet thing.  Knowledge has become a commodity jealously guarded and prices are quickly set.  America is not as innovative a country as it could be as the price and guarding of knowledge create barriers to collaboration.  Taking one man’s idea or as price is set, product, and infusing with it the abilities, insights, experiences and determination of a collective effort can change the world, like the creation of the internet.