Taking a break from finishing up the first draft of my book,
I noticed today that Tim O’Reilly posted
a link
to an insightful discussion about today’s "hostile
tech environment".

I couldn’t help but chime in with a few comments of my own. What
started as a quick paragraph turned into a small essay, so I’m cross
posting here.

I like the phrase "hostile environment" in this context. The
planet Earth was a hostile environment for dinosaurs before they all died,

These sentiments are remarkably similar to those expressed in my upcoming
While predators such as Lou Dobbs
feed on the fears of Americans, urging them to blame their companies, their
government, and their offshore competitors—anyone but
themselves—as an industry we’re missing the point. There is no
"bad guy". Economic forces are changing the face of the software
industry. As programmers, if we continue to fail to hang on to our
traditional jobs, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Jonathan Shapiro is right to doubt the viability of tariffs and other
government intervention as a "long-haul" solution. His
suggestions are powerful and relevant. However, I find it disturbing that
his solutions center on wide sweeping political and economic change rather
than change from the bottom up.

His message implies that the changes that need to take place are not things
that each of us can make personally. The only individual course of
action proposed is the formation of unions while we lobby against
the practices of our employers. As he said, it’s in the
employers’ best interest to hire at the lowest price. Ultimately, is
it not also in the economy’s best interest?

If we’re in reinvention mode, why not start with ourselves?
"Success" in the software profession can’t continue to be
defined as it has been in the past. Shapiro’s message loses
consistency at the end. It’s as if he’s urging programmers to
hang on for dear life while the economy sorts itself out. It’s this
kind of lazy, "Someone else will do it for me" attitude that has
put livelihoods at risk.

We need to take control of our careers. And, that doesn’t mean
fighting over pennies and trying to win our old jobs back. If the
"value isn’t in the software", then fighting for your old
programmer job is a sure-to-be-bloody battle over an increasingly
insigificant prize.