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2/20/2015
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David Wagner
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Oscar Nominees: IT Lessons From The Movies

The Oscars are Sunday. See how some of the best movies of the year help us learn more about IT.
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(Source: The Oscars)

(Source: The Oscars)

Welcome to a special Geekend slideshow. Every year around Oscar time I talk about the nominated films and the lessons we can learn from them. Believe me, some years are easier than others. I really enjoyed the year that The Social Network was nominated for Best Picture. Made my job easy. The message isn't always quite so direct, but the point remains the same -- movies are a reflection of society. And IT departments are as well. The things we pick to write movies about are the things most important to us.

The truth is that the Oscars get this stuff wrong all the time. There's a difference between what is on our minds, the zeitgeist of the moment, and the movies that last. That's why we end up doing things like giving Best Picture to Oliver instead of The Lion in Winter. But these errors are the things that make the game so much fun.

Trying to pick out lessons from movies we think are good right now and may totally forget in a couple of years isn't all that different from trying to pick the right technology. Remember the brief time when Blackberry was king and people didn’t know if they wanted a phone without a real keyboard? This is the same concept.

Just one massive spoiler alert. I figure I won't tell you anything they don't say in the Oscars, but if you haven't seen these movies and like surprises, then maybe you should bookmark this and comeback after you've seen them all.

The game is simple. I name the Oscar nominated film. I tell you about what it has to do with IT. You make fun of me in the comments for getting it all wrong. Also make your Oscar picks in the comments. Let's play.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 10:12:42 PM
Re: LearnWithMovies
@glenbren,

I think schools alone will keep the book business afloat. Probably not as prosperous as it once was, but it'll stick around for a while.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 6:37:05 PM
Re: Oscar Nominees: IT Lessons From The Movies
I've referenced this a couple of times now, but once upon a time, Curt wrote a post back in the E2 days about parallels between woodworking and IT. Now, it's a very blanket zen statement to say that 'all things are connected', but it's basically true, and that article really got me thinking and stuck with me. You might say that wisdom comes from keeping your eyes open and being receptive to these kinds of lessons in the most unlikely of places - that's also the kind of thinking that will get you from a junior position all the way to the top. At the very least, this article is a nice insight into how that mechanism works for you, Dave. Maybe there could have been some more technology-specific lessons tied to these movies, but the fact that you've focused on social and leaadership-oriented lessons is great as well.

I haven't actually seen any of the movies on this list. Maybe there's a lesson in there, too.  I liked your Big Hero 6 lesson the most, because it played with public perception of technology and technology pros. You could say there's no more important part of our job. So, IT is infamous for being the curmudgeonly old man of the business, and I'm living up to that. Whether consciously or unconsciously, some amount of cynicism probably prevented me from watching any of these movies. That's dangerous. It takes me out of of important conversations and leaves me ill-equipped to make decisions on current events. IT should not only keep pace with the latest and greatest because they have to, because they want to - we should always be proactive and look for new positives under every stone. Maybe I'll go and watch some of these (but not Into The Woods).
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 1:40:57 PM
Re: LearnWithMovies
Whew! I cannot imagine a world without books. I realize that everything is on video these days, and I do enjoy learning this way, but I still need the reinforcement of the written word. I hope that's not totally lost on future generations.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 1:11:12 PM
Re: LearnWithMovies
@glenbren.  I do not think so. There is still something about reading books that the big screen cannot replicate.  Sure, many people may be more accustomed to watching films than books.  But, reading is such an essential daily life component, that I do not see it going away anytime soon.
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 1:03:01 PM
Re: LearnWithMovies
Learning with movies is fine, but instead of books? Do you think that is the future?
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
2/22/2015 | 7:59:02 AM
LearnWithMovies
I, like today's generation use movies instead of books for inspiration and learning. In fact there are movie lessons or most disciplines out there. One particularly helpful site is: LearnWithMovies dot com
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2015 | 1:27:10 PM
Re: The imitation game parallels with the IT world
And having a job that is continually hectic is not rewarding, it is stressful and dangerous. Worse for IT workers is that they are not appreciated. They are thought of as socially awkward geeks who are cost centers instead of revenue generators. And overpaid.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 1:35:00 PM
The imitation game parallels with the IT world
So the imitation game as you said has some really interesting parallels with the IT world. It is no secret that IT jobs in one of the most hectic jobs one ever has to be in, and although said that employees bring out their full potential under pressure, is not true. Unlike Alan Turing's friends, most employees aren't upto so much hectic work life.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 1:24:20 PM
Birdman really is a nice example
What you interpreted about Birdman associating it with the duties of the CIO, is perfectly logical since the CIO goes through some really tough decisions and all he can do is but rely on himself and logistics that define whether a specific course of action taken would have the desired result or not.
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