10 Pages

Professionals or Professionless, Information Engineers or ???

WithKaren A. Schmidt

There is a Sufi folk tale about a wise old woman that seems somehow appropriate to the topic at hand. There was a village that was faced with some terrible unspecified dilemma, and no one knew what to do. Finally, someone remembered the wise old woman who lived outside the town. She was known throughout the land for her wisdom and insight, and so the villagers called her to them to help them with their problem. When she arrived, they explained their situation and asked for her help. She told them, “I can tell you the answer to this problem, but of course you already know what I am going to say, don’t you?” Not wishing to offend, the people said, “Yes, of course,” to which the wise old woman said, “Fine, then, you don’t need me,” and went away. The perplexed villagers called her back the next day and restated the problem, to which she said, “Well, I guess you really don’t know what I am going to say, do you?” The villagers all agreed that indeed, they didn’t have a clue, to which the wise old woman replied, “Well, since you don’t know what I am going to say, you wouldn’t understand it anyway if I told it to you,” and she went away. The villagers were beside themselves and called her back yet another time, and when she returned and posed her question, half of them said “Yes, we know what you will say,” and the other half said “No, we can’t imagine what you will say.” At this, the wise old woman threw up her hands, walked out of the village and left the people arguing among themselves about how much they knew and didn’t know, and she never came back.