Are You an Iconoclast?

  • What is your reaction when someone loudly declares "X is the very best way to do Y" with no room for disagreement?
  • Do you automatically ask "Why?" or "Says who?" when someone arbitrarily (unilaterally) makes some "profound" pronouncement on the nature of work, society, or reality (and expects you to just nod slavishly)?
  • Do you wonder why some people think they know so much, when they actually don't have a clue about how things really work??
  • Does corporate evangelism make you shudder, and/or attack, playing devils advocate?
  • Do you hear the expression "think outside the box" and cringe, knowing that those using it don't truly comprehend it?
  • Do people spouting nonsense about "paradigms" and "paradigm shifts" make you want to retch?
  • Do people spouting off about teamwork while wanting you to do all the real work make you see red?

If you do, you may well be the modern version of an iconoclast, tearing away at the "conventional wisdom" that is the religious icon of the business world.

In the computer industry, there is the idea, put forth by marketing, that new is best, and six months ago is old. This icon of forced obsolescence (exemplified by the rapid revision rates of expensive software and pricey hardware) is expensive and wasteful. The industry would serve its customers far better by putting out half as many revisions, and using the time to write cleaner, more compact, code with fewer "undocumented features", and more thoroughly testing their products.

Then there's the "think outside the box" stereotype? You know, the one that says that the only people able to "think outside the box are young (under 30, preferably under 25), thin, athletic (thus "energetic") and college graduates. Horse pucky! Each person is an individual, and very often those who don't fit the mold in various ways have a great deal of ingenuity and inventiveness to offer. After all, surviving in this industry without fitting the healthy yuppie stereotype takes a great deal of creativity!

The marked prejudice against older, disabled, or "undereducated" high tech workers cost the industry millions annually, as their young prodigies reinvent the wheel daily. By the time they are seasoned enough to be willing to look at what has been done by others, they are on the way out the door to make room for younger whiz kids. How many 40 and 50 year old programmers and engineers does YOUR high tech company have??

There are not enough whiz kids just out of college to meet the demand for punks with shiny new degrees. Instead of retraining older programmers in new languages and techniques, these companies claim "shortage' and pressure Washington to allow them to hire cheaper labor from overseas on H1B visas.

These poor unfortunates often take the job for what would be a princely sum in their homeland, only to find that they can barely afford a place to live in the Valley!! Then they find that if they want to stay, they can't change jobs, or even get a promotion without having to start the green card process all over again! Can you say "Indentured Servants", at best?

Now, with the dot con bubble bursting, the H1b's are being *kept* (because they are cheaper, after all), and citizens have been laid off by the thousands! Not that it's easy for H1b holders to change jobs - in fact, layoffs for them are often devastating, and can mess up their residency and citizenship application process!

(more to come... check back next week!)


Page created: March 28, 2000. Page last changed/tweaked on 08/20/2002