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Languages, computer systems, and productivity

Via a re-tweet of this that I saw this morning;

An interesting blog post from 2009 about why Lisp failed in the marketplace. Now I don’t want to talk about Lisp, or Java, or anything language specific, I want to highlight this statement, which was what was in the tweet, from the post:

Employers much prefer that workers be fungible, rather than maximally productive.

Now that statement explains two things, and makes it clear they are not disconnected but actually interrelated:

  1. Current trends in software development languages and systems, especially in the enterprise world, and, more importantly I think;

  2. Why the peak business lobbies / bosses unions in Australia want to continually erode basic working conditions — even though all the actual available evidence points to the fact that attacking your workforce like this actually lowers productivity. They may talk about “productivity” but they never really mean it. Their agenda is one aimed at making everybody a purely Taylorist interchangeable-worker-unit even amongst their “knowledge” workers, while they simply sit back skim the rewards off the top. Australian business leaders are basically lazy. They do not want to be world-beaters at anything but digging up stuff from the ground.

Hence why they continue to outsource and offshore everything. Even work like software development of core systems, where again and again, the evidence shows that you nearly always get bad software, if you get any software at all. The businesses want the control of outsourced waterfall development far more than they want a good result. That’s why stuff like SOA Suite sells so well to these guys; it’s not about its technical capabilities (or any of the ways that we as technologists talk about it) but the way it encodes organisational dynamics that appeals to them.

That’s why they never want real investments into proper education, except for a purely narrow view of it as training, that they’d rather the taxpayer, or individual worker, pay for it rather than themselves. Educated workers start wanting jobs with real meaning and not the merely mindless fulfillment of remote-control orders (the spec says X build X even if X is clearly wrong!).

As far as the bosses’ unions (aka the Business Council of Australia, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, etc) are concerned, you and your amazing code-fu that you built up over 20 years of experience are just fungible inputs.