Sam Williams recently interviewed Grady Booch, Ward Cunningham, and myself
about software archaeology; the issues surrounding preserving and
understanding existing software. Grady focused on the preservation aspects,
keeping archives of worthy software in museums. Ward and I concentrated on
the issues on understanding the code that you come across (not just in a
historical sense; this stuff is useful when maintaining code that’s
six months old). The resulting article in Salon
is fairly high level, but the underlying message is an important one.
Like many unemployed programmers, Kerrigan blames the sour labor
market on offshore outsourcing -- the migration of tech jobs to
relatively low-paid contractors or locally hired employees in India,
China, Russia and other developing countries.
The real problem is that as development becomes a commodity, basic
economics dictates that companies have no choice but to look for the
cheapest options. The only solution for Mr Kerrigan and the thousands
of other displaced developers is to reexamine their position in this
brave (and scary) new world. What is our individual value-add, and how
can we position ourselves to be effective and attractive in the new
marketplace? We need to think hard about the value chain and our
position on it. And once we've made our decisions, we have to work
hard to position ourselves. In the long term, the industry will simply
move up the value chain, which will be to all our benefits as long as
we're prepared to move with it. In the short and medium terms, though,
we're facing a massive shakeout. Perhaps it's time to dust off your
Pragmatic Investment Plan...
On the Fourth of July, I went over to the archives
to read a transcription of the Declaration of Independence. In a way it
seems cheap to draw project-team lessons from such a document, but there is
a wonderful quote in the middle that I hadn’t noticed before:
"experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer,
while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the
forms to which they are accustomed."
Are we currently putting up with things "to which we have become
accustomed" rather than fighting to right them?