[plt-scheme] Re: Outsourcing etc.

From: Noel Welsh (noelwelsh at yahoo.com)
Date: Sat Oct 16 15:22:39 EDT 2004

Social standing, be it called class or otherwise, is still
important, particularly in the UK where John is writing
from.  The US may pretend to have a classless society, but
it remains tacitly acknowledged -- witness the current
Presidential elections where the Bush campaign tries to
Kerry as wealthy and aloof, in the model of the British
aristocracy, and Bush, bizarrely for a Yale educated
millionaire, as one of the common people.

My own experience of Indian developed software is the same
as those reported so far -- extremely poorly written code.
But as Shriram points out this doesn't really tell us
anything.  We know that most software development houses
average, and average is pretty low, and it is the same in
India as in the Western world.  No doubt the CMM 5 houses
a good job, for a price.

My own view is that outsourcing is not too much of a
for people who are prepared and able to adapt. Western
economies are built on exploiting less developed countries.
Now it seems some of these countries are beginning to catch
up.  The result will (hopefully) be a rise in their
living with some short term pain felt by Western countries
due to market inefficiences but no long term effects.

I'm more interested in the structure of the software
developer labour market.  Every other profession (law,
medicine, architecture, engineering) is governed by a
body that maintains a monopoly over the profession.  This
serves to limit the number of practitioners and reduce the
mobility of labour, thereby driving up prices.  All
professional bodies I am aware of all require practitioners
to take an oath of allegiance to their profession, which
comes before their allegiance to their employed.  Software
development doesn't have this ruling body, and I think this
is a good thing.  Attempts to impose one (e.g. Sun or
Microsoft certification) have had limited success. 
lack of typical professional structure has caused a
in the status accorded developers and a differing structure
in how they are employed.  Whereas the professions are
typically organised as partnerships, where the
professional's goal is to become a partner, and individual
professionals are highly visible consultants, developers
seen as employees and normally have little ownership of
their work.  The way to fight redundancy (caused by
outsouring or otherwise) is to make oneself more valuable,
and the way to do this is to increase one's visibility
talks, write articles, keep a weblog) and to own one's
The typical CS training doesn't equip one to do this, which
may have been an impediment in the past, but now the
Internet has become a viable means of establishing one's
reputation I think the above is more achievable than


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