29.04.2004 15:47 - IT is the new Rock & Roll
By the time you read this, I will be dead.
Dead in a career sense. You see, on April 30th I\'m going to be 38, and in my profession, 38 is not a good age to be. You see, 38 is perilously near 40, and in the computing industry, they just don\'t fucking well want to know if you\'re 40. In this industry, you\'re past it when you\'re 40. If you can remember how to start up and maintain a PDP11/40 (and I can) or if you can remember using unix in the days when machines capable of running it were not so much laptop-sized as wardrobe, you\'re fucking past-it.
Why? I hear you ask. Well, the truth is, the industry thrives on revolution, and revolution is, apparently, concurrent with youth. Something that being 40 is not. (Although I imagine they never told Lenin or Marx that..) It doesn\'t matter that there\'s a lot of old systems out there that require someone to maintain which are running on outdated kit, and written in 6800 assembly language. (I can do that too. And 68000. And z80 and 6502.) It doesn\'t matter because they can always get some kid fresh out of college who will work all night to fix it for next to nothing, because he\'s a four-eyed little geek with no family responsibilities. What the hell, why maintain anything? Technology is now moving so fast that it\'s all outdated as soon as it\'s written, right?
Well, wrong. The premise that this is based on is that older programmers stick to old methodologies. \"You can\'t teach an old dog new tricks\" is the standard argument. Well, I\'m living proof that that\'s a load of bollocks. Some of the languages I write in didn\'t even exist five years ago. I\'m quite conversant with object-orientation, and I actually LIKE it, despite the fact that I was actually taught it using ADA, a programming language which ruined object-orientation for a whole generation of programmers.
The real truth is that the software industry is more like the music industry. It sells its products in a similar manner, and, like the rock industry, it likes its products to be sexy. For example, the latest trend comes round, and every product has to have it on its case. Remember in the 80\'s when everything was \"totally rewritten using object-orientation!\"? I do, and in many cases the object it was oriented at was separating users from their cash. How about \"Jackson Structured Programming\"? What a trend that turned out to be!This similarity extends to the shop floor, to the people who produce the product. They are in the majority, single young men with hardly any life outside their work, who are prepared to accept arduous conditions of work simply for the love of it. Many of these young men will, in later life, experience physical and mental illness due to the stress they put themselves under to make a living. They will, like their more glamourous compatriots, toting guitars round the toilet circuit, begin to suffer from a condition named \"Burn-out\". Unless they progress into a different branch, say, project-management, they will eventually be cast aside for younger men who have been schooled in This Years Big Thing. They will end up bitter and cynical, and will, in their bitterness and cynicism, use others as they were once used.
It will not matter that they have a consistent track-record. It will not matter that they are using basically the same systems and methodologies that have been around for at least thirty years. The truth is, that they are young, gullible and exploitable, and that is their real worth. By the time they have realised the truth, it will be too late.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am dead as far as the IT industry is concerned.