While Chan asks his engineer to document activities, Chan understands that it would take months to get it all down on paper. That's why much of the interchange happens during daily chatter. For the engineer's part, says Chan, he's more than willing to share his wisdom about the network.
That's an instinct that IT managers, and their business bosses, need to tap to protect the enterprise, says psychiatrist Orman. "If you really care about your work," she says, "I would think it would be troubling to you that it'll all vanish if something happened to you."
Chan also says his technical background underscores an understanding and respect for technical work. "I'm sure the [engineer] would be less cooperative if I came from a business background," says Chan, who designed the first campus network in 1984. "He knows that I'm perfectly capable of configuring a router and setting things up."
The fire yet to come: IT's smoldering discontent
The day after Terry Childs' blowup in San Francisco's IT department on downtown Market Street, a freak lightning storm lit a thousand wildfires whose smoke turned the California sun a blood red -- coincidence, to be sure, and perhaps apocryphal.
Today, a cool ocean breeze drifts down Market, and the dense smoke from the wildfires has dissipated, leaving clear blue skies. News about Childs no longer receives top billing, if it's covered at all, by the local press. Everything seems back to normal.
But inside cubicles across Silicon Valley and elsewhere, tech-worker discontent continues to smolder, and temperatures continue to rise. There's no question that another flare-up à la Childs is in the making, as companies turn a deaf ear to the pleas of burnt-out tech workers. They'd rather believe, as UC Berkeley's Chan initially did, that Childs was simply a socially inept narcissist who blew a fuse, an odd case that bears little resemblance to the workplace at large.
Those in the tech trenches, though, know better. "Terry Childs is a wake-up call," Chan says.