Tag Archives: work

David Graeber: “Spotlight on the financial sector did make apparent just how bizarrely skewed our economy is in terms of who gets rewarded”

As anyone who’s ever had a 9-to-5 job knows, the thing everyone hates the most is having to look busy, even once you’ve finished a job, just to make the boss happy, because it’s “his time” and you have no business lounging around even if there’s nothing you really need to be doing. Now it’s almost as if that kind of business is the most valued form of work, because it’s pure work, work unpolluted by any possible sort of gratification, even that gratification that comes out of knowing you’re actually doing something. And every time there’s some kind of crisis, it intensifies. We’re told, oh no! We’re all going to have to work harder. And since the amount of things that actually need doing remain about the same, there’s an additional hypertrophy of bullshit.

more on salon.com.

Interview with one of the initiators of the Occupy movement. Work, leisure and why the American working class still votes right.

In the Name of Love

“Do what you love” disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is an unmerited privilege, a sign of that person’s socioeconomic class. Even if a self-employed graphic designer had parents who could pay for art school and cosign a lease for a slick Brooklyn apartment, she can self-righteously bestow DWYL as career advice to those covetous of her success.

A great article on the darker side of the Do What You Love mantra: how it devaluates the work done by huge majority of humans, and how it can be easily used to exploit the seemingly lucky minority that does “what they love”. Hat tip to h for the link.

The 7 Habits of Highly Overrated People

If you’re having trouble making the mental leap to finding good things about your performance to mention, you can always completely derail the discussion. If someone mentions that you haven’t checked in code in the last month, just point out that in the source control system you’re using, technically, “check in” is not the preferred verbiage. Rather, you “promote code.” The distinction may not seem important, but the importance is subtle. It really goes to the deeper philosophy of programming or, as some might call it, “the art of software engineering.”

more on daedtech.com.

Wally from Dilbert would be proud of this guide.

Fired? Speak No Evil

The increased prevalence of nondisparagement agreements is part of a corporate culture of risk management that would have us say nothing if we can’t say anything nice. And yet it occurs to me that if a company isn’t strong enough to be reproached, then it simply isn’t strong enough, period.

Mind you, I’m not looking to disparage Byliner. The company has made a few mistakes in my view (firing me perhaps being a relatively minor one), but what fledgling enterprise does not screw up from time to time during its shakedown phase? It’s not that I necessarily want to disparage, but I want the freedom to do so, to be able to criticize, to attack, to carp, to excoriate, if need be. I want to tell the truth, even if it isn’t pretty.

more on nytimes.com.

On the practice of requiring former employees to not criticize their previous companies.

Unicorn Jobs

My second question is: Are you good with people? Ultimately somebody influential needs to “sponsor” your project and convince their organization to let you work on it. And for that to happen, you need to be good at knowing what other people want and love, to lead from below. You need to convince others to pay you to work on your dream; that’s no easy feat.

more on pgbovine.net.

If at some point you established that you are not spoiled enough, maybe it’s time to search for a unicorn job. The article contains few tips on how to land at one.

In Praise of Idleness By Bertrand Russell

We keep a large percentage of the working population idle, because we can dispense with their labor by making the others overwork. When all these methods prove inadequate, we have a war: we cause a number of people to manufacture high explosives, and a number of others to explode them, as if we were children who had just discovered fireworks. By a combination of all these devices we manage, though with difficulty, to keep alive the notion that a great deal of severe manual work must be the lot of the average man.

more on zpub.com.

Wonderful essay about our broken work ethic, that prohibits humanity from fully benefiting from the technological progress, and is at the core worsening social problems. Russell demonstrated slightly (but only slightly) too optimistic view of Soviet Russia, but other than this, his essay is as valid now as it was in the time of its conception.

People simply empty out

They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?

Charles Bukowsky’s argument why he thought it’s better to be a barfly than to work 9 to 5.

After Your Job Is Gone

If this scenario plays out, the world will divide into a dwindling minority of the very rich — tech workers, finance barons, and those who inherited their wealth, mostly — living in a handful of idyllic cities dripping with wealth, and/or their summer homes on nearby beaches, lakes, and mountains … and the majority who barely get by, doing occasional contract work or odd jobs for a little extra money, too poor to even visit the places where the rich live, work, and play. Aside from those few with government jobs, there’ll be hardly any middle class at all between those two groups.

If you’re one of the two people reading this blog, it’s very likely you’re not thinking seriously about unemployment as something that could happen to YOU. And most likely you are right. However, the article points out to one of the most important problems faced by modern societies: the jobs are not gone because they went to China, but simply because they are not needed anymore. While technology does create new jobs too, the very essence of it is to optimize and eventually eliminate labor, not to create more of it. Yet, the current societies, especially their social security systems, don’t take this into account and deeply rely on the false assumption constantly growing workforce.

Yes, this article really got me.

Why You Make Less Money

Have you ever had a conversation with a fellow technologist that you felt wasn’t quite at your skill level, and at some point you discovered that she/he makes $20,000 more than you do? $50,000? As someone who has had a great deal of access to the salary and compensation details for thousands of software engineers over many years, I can report that there can be significant variation in salary between technologists with almost indistinguishable skills and qualifications. This may not be news to some, but some of the reasons might not be obvious to professionals in the field, particularly if someone has only been exposed to a small subset of industries or companies. Many of the explanations are somewhat unique to this industry or at the very least more prevalent in the software world. Regardless of whether or not money is a primary motivator in your career, it is still useful to understand why others may be earning more (and what you can do to earn more).

Excellent advice about salary negotiations.

“I don’t understand”

“I don’t understand” is the perfect response. You’re not insulting anybody. You’re not showing weakness. You’re building a culture of respect for how smart everybody is, because you know that after a few minutes of explanation you will get it.
more on bjk5.com

Read, adopt and move on.