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The Culture, Status, and Working Conditions of Technology Support Professionals as Portrayed in Popular Media


The IT Crowd is a very popular and funny British sitcom about computer support technicians.

Just as the movie Office Space attempted to humorously convey many of the clichés about cubical jobs, The IT Crowd attempts to show the humorous side of IT support culture. You can watch The IT Crowd on Hulu.

In The IT Crowd, the IT support staff are in a basement area that’s been converted into office spaces. Somehow, there’s a geeky hacker appeal to the subterranean venue. It is reminiscent of the basement ‘Command Center’ of The Warlock in the movie Live Free or Die Hard. Some present-day technicians, longing for an identity and persona, will quickly embrace this 1980s retro hacker-era mystique similar to the characters in the movie War GamesHackers, or the cult classic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

In the 1990s, a new image of IT professionals became predominate. They were no longer portrayed as geeky unsocial poorly dressed nerds. The pay was good and it was common to get a large top-floor office with a view. People recognized that the stability and success of an entire organization or company depended on their technical support staff. Gone were the days of wearing t-shirts and jeans. At the time, it seemed like IT support staff might become the next profession to break into six-figure incomes similar to lawyers and doctors. After all, just like healthcare, we’re critically dependent on the proper functioning of technology. The training and certifications required for IT professionals were challenging. The public perception of IT people had changed from the independent scruffy unsocial hacker image to a more professional, socially engaged, and well paid employee. There were stories of employees asking for a 10% raise, but instead having their salary doubled – as an incentive not to leave.*

Today we’re left with two images of what an IT person might look like: the unsociable geeky hacker nerd wearing a t-shirt and jeans, or the professional, smart, responsive, and well dressed super hero who fixes everything.

It’s up to technology support professionals to improve the image of their profession by choosing the path of skilled professional rather than an self-made hacker. In doing so, the working conditions, pay, and public opinion of technical support staff can improve.

Below is a humorous video clip from The IT Crowd, “What Does IT Mean?”


* Based on a true story.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com