I just know that non-coder working people are going to need a lot more help and protection than they’ve got today.
So are “coders”. Just because we’re necessary doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed to be respected. If the labor market collapses, it’ll bring wages down for all of us.
This is the problem with us, as technologists. We’re myopic. We have skills that allow us to do anything, but we refuse to concern ourselves with “business problems” much less organizing around our own interests, so we end up with a world in which most of us answer to fleet-average MBA-culture people who decide how to purpose our skills, and we end up unemploying people. We could be doing so much more, but we refuse to develop any organization around our interests. The result is that we’re moderately well-paid (upper-working class) during economic high times (like now).
Most programmers look at people like me, who’ve been saying for years that we need to take action and do a better job of managing our professional and social status, and think it’s just about bumping salaries. It’s not. It’s about (among other things) protecting the individual, and about ensuring that things don’t become horrible when our MBA-culture overseers fuck up so bad that it creates another 2001-esque dot-com crash.
We could be doing so much more
That’s what galls me. We should be employing hordes of smart people to work on hard, impactful things like curing cancer. Instead, we keep making startups to solve the problems of 23-year-old white males.
Face it: technologists are kept docile by their salaries and their (temporary) status.
Our salaries aren’t that high, when you consider (a) the level of talent, (b) the amount of work (second shift) it takes to keep current, (c ) the amount of value we add, and (d) that we usually answer to people less qualified who make more.
The problem is that we’ve let them (as a group) convince us that we’re mere “coders” who’d be out on the street if it weren’t for a narrow skill set. It’s an abusive relationship wherein we’ve let ourselves be convinced that “leaving tech” under some narrowly defined interpretation of “tech” means poverty, misery, and failure.
What makes us what we are isn’t “writing code”. It’s something we have to know how to do, and it’s one of the easier parts of it for us (although it’s hard for many people). Rather, it’s that we’re first-class problem solvers. In a world of so much bullshit and imprecision-of-thought, we’re the ones who go toe-to-toe with the hardest problems and have been doing so for years.
We’re just god-awful at marketing ourselves. That, and I think that we were born in the wrong time. How we’re treated affects a company in the long term, but right now the corporate world is run by short-term actors who bank on getting promoted away from their own rubbish fires. We’re the only people who care about horizons longer than next quarter, and this is another asset that we could leverage, but when we insist on a long-term view in technology development, management just views it as our own self-interested careerism (which is partly is, but so are their short-term plays).
we were born in the wrong time
Are you implying we should have been born later? Because until recently our skills weren’t all that useful!
20 years ago, programmers got more respect and companies cared more about long-term performance than they do now.
That said, the past became the present, so take from that what you will.
As for the future, I haven’t the foggiest idea whether our lot will improve or degrade. There are too many uncertain variables.
I think that a new campaigning organisation could realistically grow a membership within a year that had a few thousand people, mainly concentrated in the world’s startups, and the world’s established technology giants.
This isn’t “technologists”. This is “technology companies” and they already have quite a few of those orgs.