Farewell, CTO Connection

New column, Off the Record, will dish the dirt on what goes down in IT

If you haven’t checked out this week’s columns yet, let me be the one to break the bad news: Chad Dickerson is hanging up his InfoWorld CTO spurs and heading off to Yahoo, where he’ll be toiling away in the brave new world of search.

That’s unwelcome news for readers because Chad isn’t just InfoWorld’s chief technology officer, he’s also the author of CTO Connection -- a slice of life from the IT trenches. One of our most popular columns, CTO Connection is uniquely Chad: technically grounded, rooted in real events, and elegantly written (Chad once confessed to me, over a few beers, that he had been an English major in college; the tech stuff came later). In other words, we’re not simply going to hand it off to someone else to write. His next column will be his last for InfoWorld.

How do we replace this long-running hit? By turning to a unique group of experts -- our readers -- for help.

Starting on Aug. 29, look for Off the Record, a weekly first-person account of the problems encountered, projects attempted, and lessons learned on the front lines of IT. Written each week by a different tech pro, Off the Record will focus on the seam between IT and business, highlighting how strategic initiatives can sometimes go terribly, terribly wrong. If you have a war story you’ve been burning to tell, here’s your chance. Send a short description to OffTheRecord@infoworld.com, and we’ll be in touch.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Sure, I’ve got my share of cautionary tales. But I’ve also got a job I like and a CEO with a drawerful of pink slips.” Not to worry: The column will be anonymous. Our editors will work with you to change names, obscure identifying details, and remove incriminating information. You send us your ripping-good narrative others can enjoy and learn from, and we take care of the stress.

Here’s what we’re looking for: The true story behind an ill-fated merger or acquisition, tales of projects crippled by an overlooked detail, IT initiatives that floundered due to blurred lines of responsibility. Or how about the inside scoop on a b-to-b integration gone awry, or a meditation on the impossible expectations of a technology-challenged corporate board (with names changed to protect the guilty)? Your real-world account may just help your IT brethren avoid similar pitfalls. Think of it as public service with an added incentive -- each contributor will receive an iPod Shuffle for giving us the lowdown.

By the way, once he leaves, I suspect Chad will be to tempted to write at least one installment of the new column (anonymously, of course). He insists that he has a jaw-dropping anecdote or two that he couldn’t reveal while he was InfoWorld’s CTO. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to go “Off the Record.”