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Does Open Source Software Cost Jobs?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the call-it-liberating-corporate-servants dept.

Businesses 530

jfruhlinger writes "John Spencer, a British blogger and tech educator, is convinced that free and open source software, which he's promoted for years, is costing IT jobs, as UK schools cut support staff no longer needed. But does the argument really hold up? It turns out that the services he's focused on are actually cloud services that are reducing the need for schools to provide their own tech infrastructure. Of couse, it's also true that many of those cloud services are themselves based on open source tech."

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530 comments

Duh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194960)

Paid for = jobs

free = no jobs

not really a hard concept

Re:Duh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195002)

more time for moving to a commune, spreading free-love, and, growing a chin beard

Translation: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194970)

Efficiency is evil.

Re:Translation: (5, Insightful)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195010)

I can't remember the exact source (and because I'm really a secret Luddite I won't search for it) but this reminds me of the saying about the public works project where one overseer says that in order to increase employment they should take away the workers' shovels and give them spoons, and the other one says "why give them spoons?"

Quote Investigator to the rescue! (5, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195084)

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/10/10/spoons-shovels/ [quoteinvestigator.com]

At one of our dinners, Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: "You don’t understand. This is a jobs program." To which Milton replied: "Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels."

Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (4, Interesting)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195262)

Considering this ideological simplified nonsense is fashionable on /., it is worth pointing out that a socialistic-communistic-pinko-liberal jobs program, the WPA, is responsible for most of the standing infrastructure that the US, the world's biggest economy relies upon every day.

Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (4, Interesting)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195340)

that won't be true for long, catastrophically low infrastructure spending is allowing all of that WPA era infrastructure to crumble to dust

Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195518)

That's because the Republicans never want to pay for upkeep. Remember, "government jobs", even upkeeping infrastructure, are "that kenyan nigga's gummint waste thats makin ma taxes too damn high."

Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195344)

The point is that a jobs program is a waste if it's done exclusively to give people jobs. Boondoggles (look it up) don't help the economy like truly productive jobs programs do. A productive job should use efficient tools to do something that needs to be done, not just try to employ people they don't have to.

Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (5, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195408)

There are two San Francisco bridges - among the most used and photographed in the world - built within 6 years, during the 1930's.

The Golden Gate was a WPA project - approved and built in 4 years. The Bay Bridge, not formally WPA, benefited immensely from the large-scale mobilization of labour and planning that WPA enabled.

Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (0, Flamebait)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195500)

1) The WPA prolonged the Great Depression by about 7 extra years.
2) It wasn't something that really was within the mandate allowed by the Constitution.
3) At least for the debt, pain, etc. we GOT that standing infrastructure. The same can't be said for Obama's Stimulus, which seems to have produced LITTLE.

Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (2, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195330)

And did Milton consider the total economic cost of that tradeoff?

Did he add the cost of supporting and/or fending off all of those out-of-work people that would be furloughed if the shovels were replaced with tractors?

Did he multiply the cost of completing the project if the shovels were replaced with spoons?

Did he determine whether the project would even be undertaken if not for the cheap availability of generic people and shovels instead of the expensive need for skilled people and tractors?

Or did he merely invoke the fallacy of the excluded middle and satisfy his own rush to cognitive closure and limited view of the consequences as a means of satisfying his own political preconceptions which inexorably had more to do with his personal gain than any overall benefit to the community?

P.S. Ayn Rand can go to hell, if she's not already building a railroad there.

Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (1, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195376)

This is the fundamental inconsistency with capitalism. If there's not enough real work to go around, the solution isn't to invent more work. It's to more fairly allocate the work we need done.

Re:Translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195222)

modded up: rewards of not being Luddite

Re:Translation: (3, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195090)

Agreed, if TCO is lower, then jobs are cost, end of story.

Maybe we can flip around the next MS based TCO study and be all, MS hates jobs.

Re:Translation: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195228)

Fuck you, what is TCO?

Re:Translation: (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195320)

> Fuck you, what is TCO?

Fuck you, TCO is total cost of ownership.

Re:Translation: (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195328)

Total Cost of Ownership.

It's a good thing. We want jobs lost due to needing less people to do the same amount of work. It's the back-bone of economic growth. 3/5's of the worlds entire human economic output happened in half a century (out of 800), some of this is due to population (the most recent century had significantly more people years than the previous, not not near that many).

Re:Translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195380)

Total Cost of Ownership.

Re:Translation: (5, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195316)

Efficiency is evil.

It's more insidious than that. If you do a job that can be automated, you are already redundant. Automation will only increase. On the flip side we have ever cheaper labour due to globalisation. The idea of earning your living doing an honest day's work is coming under severe pressure. Artificially retricting the automation is a band aid at best. Imagine what would happen if we were to suddenly have robots with human like abilities but not wants and desires - if that sci fi dream is ever realised the idea of having a job is going to become rather antiquated.

So if we don't destroy ourselves we will eventually need a change to our economic systems and our ideas on earning - that will be a huge and devasting change to make - unlike any other in history. Earning a living is an idea deeply ingrained into most societies. Our entire economy will need to be reworked if the vast majority are not to starve. What's more it must be done sustainably with the finite resources we have. The change isn't going to be pretty..

Cotton Spinners (5, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194982)

There isn't much need for cotton spinners or candlemakers any more either. Are we to mourn those jobs as well?

Re:Cotton Spinners (4, Funny)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195168)

I know! And those damn shovels, only if we stuck to spoons, we could employ so much more people.

Clouds don't fly by themselves... (5, Insightful)

skovnymfe (1671822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194998)

There are jobs in the cloud too. They're just smarter jobs, not I-run-a-server-in-my-spare-time-so-I'm-qualified jobs. And who says you don't need support staff for open source software anyway? Hell if anything you probably need more when people can't find that button that does that thing in Word but isn't there in open office.

Re:Clouds don't fly by themselves... (4, Insightful)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195056)

Once the clouds burst, there will be even more jobs than before. Looping is endemic in this industry.

Re:Clouds don't fly by themselves... (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195232)

You still need somebody to deal with physical architecture, routers, and the like. The cloud takes at least some high-level services off your hands, but it sure doesn't do you much good when your router decides today is the day it's going to die.

As to open source costing jobs, it's a strange claim, as I get paid the same whether I install MS-Office or LibreOffice, or whether I'm using a Samba server or a Windows server for file sharing.

At the end of the day, while I'm ambivalent with this 21st century version of a client-server model (after all, that's all the "cloud" really is), I can see situations, particularly with schools, where administrators may not want large parts of their budgets going to server maintenance, licensing costs and the like looking to online solutions.

Re:Clouds don't fly by themselves... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195304)

I can see situations, particularly with schools, where administrators may not want large parts of their budgets going to server maintenance, licensing costs and the like looking to online solutions.

Of course once an organisation is tied to a particular 'online solution' and the costs of switching away would be enormous, the provider would never think of ratcheting up the annual fees until it makes up a large part of the budget.

Re:Clouds don't fly by themselves... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195250)

There are jobs in the cloud too.

Yes, but there are no underage kids in a cloud datacenter. So you're dismissing an important benefit of working at a school district.

Re:Clouds don't fly by themselves... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195366)

Dude... the "cloud" does change nothing except the wording in adverts.

They're not smarter jobs. They're jobs with dumber customers.

Re:Clouds don't fly by themselves... (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195404)

I'm not sure 'smarter' is the right word. Right now a lot of servers are run by the least incompetent tech person in the office. It doesn't really matter if they're actually trained or really paid to do that job, but those young people know a lot about computers.

Putting services into the 'cloud' puts it into the hands of specialists in IT, and leaves non IT people for non IT jobs, which is what they should be doing anyway.

Also, any 'open source' project that runs anything worth real money is going to be backed, directly or indirectly by someone who has cash to pay developers. This is the 'Intel and IBM as major contributors to linux' sort of deal, although for more specialized products. That doesn't mean they do everything, or even necessarily run the show, but no one in their right mind runs a major Open source product shop without some money in a back room somewhere.

Um, wrong cause for the effect. (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195000)

Software that isn't designed to require constant hands-on maintenance costs jobs.

OSS is not always in that category, sadly.

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195044)

Neither is the most expensive payware stuff.

At least with the Libre stuff, I don't have to needlessly waste money and I can be as much in control of things as I want to be.

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195276)

Well, no, the expensive payware stuff is often expressly designed to employ consultants from the company that designed it.

But what I've noticed is that Linux itself is a much bigger management hassle than Windows is. Untrained people manage their own Windows installations fairly easily (i.e., it runs with less intervention, and can update 99% of its installed software without any intervention). Even trained people (even I) have trouble just getting the average Linux distro to a basic, usable state, then updating it with typical software on occasion.

Even the distros that are specifically designed for minimal h4xx0r talent are only truly canned for a small subset of hardware configurations.

The ultimate answer here is that anyone who does a trade study on which software to use and doesn't make a realistic assessment of the total-cost-to-own has failed to do a trade study properly. Just saying "is it open source?" is a guarantee of random results.

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195374)

Even trained people (even I) have trouble just getting the average Linux distro to a basic, usable state, then updating it with typical software on occasion.

WTF is so hard about "sudo apt-get update ; sudo apt-get upgrade"?

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (4, Informative)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195412)

it's easier than that, my xubuntu laptop pesters me with a red triangle ! icon whenever there are updates, just like windows with a notification in the system tray, however i can say that such updates have never broken my machine, which is more than i can say for windows update

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195452)

Why are you trying to upgrade regardless whether the update was successful or not?

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195506)

Even at a simple single desktop level with one of the more polished distros, blindly running apt-get update or worse apt-get upgrade doesn't always result in an improved and stable system. I am a big believer in OSS, run Ubuntu on my personal machine, have two servers in the home running other, leaner versions of Linux and if anything, it has made me a big believer in the mantra of stripping down to the bare essentials and then locking it in that configuration for as long as possible.

It's been my personal experience* that 1 update cycle out of ten will break something and every upgrade will break at least two things. Where the actual skill (that costs $$ in the business world) comes in is in troubleshooting and fixing that issue. Yes, the issues are more rare in Linux, but I'd argue that the skills needed to resolve them are much more advanced and hence more rare than the comparable issues in Windows require to fix.

*Yes, i am aware that one persons anecdotal experiences do not qualify as data and are far from being a rational basis on which to choose the I.T. path of any large organization.

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195456)

Even trained people (even I) have trouble just getting the average Linux distro to a basic, usable state, then updating it with typical software on occasion.

Really? And you think you're trained? My dad's a hunt'n'peck user, and he VERY happily uses ubuntu's default installation.

If you're honestly having trouble with an ubuntu installation, then i doubt you're as qualified as you think you are.

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (2)

mellon (7048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195516)

Well, no, the expensive payware stuff is often expressly designed to employ consultants from the company that designed it.

Nope. You're probably thinking of Oracle or something like that. You make better margins on software that requires minimal hands-on support. If your software requires a ton of hands on support, you might as well charge for the hands-on support, but your margins on that are never as good as your margins on straight software sales, because the marginal cost of each copy of software is zero. I say this not speaking theoretically, but because I work for a company that sells software. We do our damnedest to make sure the software Just Works for you without requiring our help.

But what I've noticed is that Linux itself is a much bigger management hassle than Windows is. Untrained people manage their own Windows installations fairly easily (i.e., it runs with less intervention, and can update 99% of its installed software without any intervention). Even trained people (even I) have trouble just getting the average Linux distro to a basic, usable state, then updating it with typical software on occasion.

Either you are using a really crappy distro, or you have a lot of legacy hardware. My maintenance effort on my Ubuntu servers is _way_ lower than the effort I go through keeping my Windows VM up to date. I realize that experiences vary, so what you are saying may be true for you, but it's definitely not universally true.

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195346)

Software that isn't designed to require constant hands-on maintenance costs jobs.

That's the same moronic 'anti-virus developers are the ones writing the viruses' rubbish we always hear. They could make perfect software if they wanted to but it's designed to require maintenance to create work. 100% reliable cars could be built too, but we get inferior ones to create jobs. Etc, etc...

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195418)

No, it's a simple fact rom the incentives. People add features to free software projects for one of two reasons: either they need the feature, or someone who is paying them needs the feature. In both cases, that feature will be tested by someone actually using it. In contrast, people add features to off-the-shelf proprietary software because they think they will be able to sell them. If features are being added by people who want to use them, then they're going to be tested as soon as they're written, in actual use.

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195414)

Double negative working here.

Let the Set D = {s|s is an article of software requiring maintenance}. O = {s|s is an article of open source software}. OP claims that the cardinality of D \ O is some number greater than zero. Duh?

Of course there's a big agency problem with the business models of open source, namely, if you make all your money off support, you have a vested interest in keeping your software difficult to use for non-technical users -- you need people to keep buying support contracts. In a growing market you can make old features easier to use while making new features hard to use, but if there's a strong demand for stability over new features, you're biggest enemy is the guy writing three-step customizer wizard that sets up Nginx for the 99% of use cases. In the long term it sorta locks OSS out of huge consumer and retail markets, because these consumers want "just works" and it's difficult to scale for-pay support to millions of subscribers, each wanting the individual attention they're paying for; the OSS support trade, at least by the evidence, is B2B and B2B only.

B2B doesn't have the sort of employment multiplier that retail service does, so maybe you lose jobs in total, but obviously you'll make a lot more money at your nail salon if you're able to use an open source POS terminal, right? :) This is a big problem with the whole technology-breeds-productivity-and-prosperity argument: technology doesn't have to eliminate jobs in the aggregate, and it usually doesn't, but the jobs that are created are often undesirable and unstable. Machines free us to be creative, but they also free us to do other people's nails and clean their toilets.

Re:Um, wrong cause for the effect. (5, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195462)

This isn't a problem with the software, it's a problem with the economic system. Humans don't exist merely to fill jobs. On the contrary, jobs exist to fulfill humans.

If we've invented a technology that lets 1 person do the job of 2 people, then we've freed one person from the need to work. We've literally saved his life, or at least 40 hours a week of it. This is a good thing. The fact that this guy has to go supplicate himself to yet another capitalist in order to eat is simply indicative of the perverse incentives inherent in capitalism.

The way I see it (5, Interesting)

3arwax (808691) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195008)

The way I see it, technology helps us get machines to do the mundane so we can spend our time exploring and creating.

Re:The way I see it (3, Insightful)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195136)

Except that as things are, you might find yourself exploring the bottom of a garbage bin for some food. Eh, you get the point.

Rocket Science? (0)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195016)

Once you've basically turned the computers into dumb terminals managed remotely and the only thing required is a connection to the net, you no longer need a network administrator.

Re:Rocket Science? (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195180)

Once you've basically turned the computers into dumb terminals managed remotely and the only thing required is a connection to the net, you no longer need a network administrator.

... until one (or more) of those dumb terminals is unable to connect to its remote services. Then you'll be right back where you started, except now you have to pay that same netadmin outrageous consulting wages 'cuz he's not on the payroll.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

Re:Rocket Science? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195244)

Once you've basically turned the computers into dumb terminals managed remotely and the only thing required is a connection to the net, you no longer need a network administrator.

I'd like to direct your attention to the part I emphasized. I'd also like to point out that all those workstations and other network-connected gear at your office building does require a bit more than fairy dust and unicorn farts to connect to "the net", yanno?

Now if you were talking about server admins, well, okay... you'd be sort of right.

Public Transportation (3)

EricX2 (670266) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195018)

Sounds like public transportation cuts jobs. If everybody rode in buses or trains, the number of auto mechanics would go down drastically.

Re:Public Transportation (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195274)

What about the increased demand for mechanics to work on the dramatically increased number of buses and trains required due to everyone riding them instead of their own vehicles?

Jobs don't disappear so much as transition. You can invent a robot to put together a car, but you still need someone to maintain the robot, and someone has to design it, and someone has to sell it and market it, and someone has to work on improving it, someone has to physically move these robots around and get them from where they're built to where they're installed, someone has to do the books for the company that builds the robots, someone has to supply that company with the raw materials to build them, etc...

I realize you were being a little facetious (it seems that way, although my internet sarcasm detector goes haywire sometimes) but I felt like mentioning it. The real problem is stopping well-paying jobs from transitioning to lower paying ones, i.e., keep the auto mechanics from ending up working at Walmart for $8.50 an hour. Unfortunately, that seems to be the big problem right now; we're caught in a positive feedback loop where decreased supply of good paying jobs is leading to an overabundance of demand for those low paying jobs which do not afford people the extra money to purchase the goods made by the people with the well-paying jobs leading to less demand for their product leading to layoffs and more people at Walmart leading to even less demand and on and on and on...

The Cloud still needs to be maintained, and the more demand there is on the cloud the more it will grow and the more maintenance will be required.

How to deal with surplus labor? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195504)

What about the increased demand for mechanics to work on the dramatically increased number of buses and trains

The argument is that enough buses to carry 10,000 people require fewer mechanics than enough cars to carry 10,000 people.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the big problem right now; we're caught in a positive feedback loop

So dramatically increased efficiency leads to surplus labor. So if we take it as an axiom of capitalism that one must sell one's labor to buy food and shelter, how do we keep those negatively affected by this surplus from turning to crime?

You know what costs jobs? (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195022)

You know what costs jobs? Efficiency. Economic efficiency always costs jobs. Often, it's creating other jobs elsewhere, but maybe not. Maybe it just means that job doesn't need to be done anymore.

You can create jobs by paying people to dig ditches and then fill them back in. Or you can create jobs by hiring support people you don't need, building infrastructure that can be handled more efficiently elsewhere, or paying people to write software that you don't need because an open source alternative is already available. It's the same as digging useless ditches.

Do you really want to create jobs? Great. Hire people to do something useful that can't be handled more efficiently by open source software. Or hire them to improve open source software-- god knows there's work to be done.

Re:You know what costs jobs? (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195154)

The percentage of Americans actively working on growing food has shrunk from approximately 90% to around 5%, and that 5% is producing far more food. That's an increase of efficiency of at least 18 times, probably more like 30 or 40 times.

And yet, we don't have an 85% unemployment rate. The efficiency didn't reduce jobs, it created jobs. It freed people up to work on other things. Better software tech will do the same thing. The worst effect is a temporary period of unrest while employees adapt to new circumstances.

Re:You know what costs jobs? (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195392)

The efficiency didn't reduce jobs, it created jobs.

Efficiency always destroys jobs, that's the whole point of it, replacing one process with another one that needs less resources. This in turn might lead to economic growth and that might create new jobs, but it's not the increased efficiency that is doing that by itself. If we would all live at the same standards of living from 100 years ago, then you sure as hell would have a lot of job less people, but we don't, we have iPods and stuff to keep busy and those take man-power to be build. Of course how long one can sustain endless economic growth is another question, it worked well in the past, if it will continue in the future isn't all that clear.

Re:You know what costs jobs? (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195238)

An interesting piece of this story: If it's allowing companies or governments to lay people off, how can OSS have a higher cost of ownership due to labor costs, as Microsoft has been claiming for much of the last decade?

Re:You know what costs jobs? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195496)

You can create jobs by paying people to dig ditches and then fill them back in.

Or you can recognize that the problem isn't unemployment. Unemployment is evidence that the economy is producing enough. The problem is that the available work isn't distributed fairly, and the products of that work isn't distributed fairly. Neither of which problems can be solved by capitalism.

Increase efficiency is an unqualified good in any humane economic system.

WTF (3, Interesting)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195038)

Since when have jobs become the be-all and end-all of everything? Sometimes, technology means less human intervention is necessary. Deal with it.

Re:WTF (1)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195164)

People need jobs because they provide an income. Now some people might be out of jobs, and there might not be enough to go around, but when they bitch about this, we tell them to get a job. Ridiculous.

Re:WTF (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195192)

What do you do with the population that is no longer able to find work, then, when the factories and farms are automated, and there's only so many people needed to produce?

Seems you then can either have people digging ditches with spoons, or embrace socialism or euthanasia.

Re:WTF (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195332)

At that point prodution is so cheap that it doesn't matter. Once you have no scarcity economics goes out the window.

If machinary is doing all the work but things are still scarce (because we don't have enough iron or whatever) then there'll be plenty of jobs as grunts in the army throwing bodies protecting the iron or whatever you have and grabbing what others have.

Re:WTF (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195384)

There's a third option, one which the so-called 1% are working hard to reach:

you can have a class of rich folks being served personally by the rest of the population.

And by "served personally" I exclude nothing that one human can do for another for money.

Re:WTF (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195508)

Since when have jobs become the be-all and end-all of everything?

Since capitalism became the be-all and end-all of everything.

Progress (2)

geekpowa (916089) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195042)

Yeah and so what?

One person not doing a redundant/unnecessary job is an opportunity for that one person to find another way to productively contribute to the community.

Bemoaning job loses in areas of progress and innovation? Lets bemoan the how computers superseded the profession of clerk.

Of course it does. (5, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195050)

Electric lamps cost jobs when they were new, all those candlemakers in the street! The horrors! And the car companies put the buggy makers out of work, the whip manufacturers kaput, the ferriers all bankrupt.

Look at all that open source water that falls from the sky, depriving honest water sellers from making a living. Damn it, this is terrible! Nothing should be free, right?

Someone is complaining because Joe will do for free what Jim has been paid for? *sigh*. What a load of bull-oney.

Re:Of course it does. (1, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195294)

Look at all the fletchers that had to find new lines of work when the cannon and flintlock were introduced. When cavalry abandoned horses and went to tanks and armored vehicles, I'm sure more than a few blacksmiths who had had a pretty fine job found themselves out on their asses.

Technology frequently reduces labor requirements. Civilization itself is built on that fact. The invention of agriculture allowed a certain percentage of the population the rather new and unique notion of "spare time", thus giving us writing, advanced mathematics, government and all the other trappings.

Re:Of course it does. (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195426)

The past is not the future.

The auto industry killed older jobs, but actually created more jobs than it killed, because it was, as yet, manual work to forge and assemble the many parts of an automobile.

But when the auto industry subsequently turned to the task of replacing its expensive manual laborers with relatively cheaper robotic workers, the auto industry killed its own jobs.

New industries have combined the two changes. They aren't merely replacing old jobs, they're replacing them with much more efficient new jobs, reducing the total workforce.

And then there's the irony of outsourcing, in which one local job is replaced by 2 or 3 or 5 ultra-cheap foreign jobs. But the people who are managing those jobs are realizing they can still replace their expensive workers with relatively cheaper robots.

The future isn't one of the fallacy of lamenting the buggy-whip. It's real mass unemployment, and the concentration of income and wealth in the hands of people who never actually used their hands to make a living in the first place.

School +Teachers -IT staff (4, Insightful)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195054)

Obviously if less IT staff is required, the school can get more certified teachers. If you studied C.S. you might apply for a job as math teacher.

Re:School +Teachers -IT staff (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195450)

The people who are replacing workers with robots are the same people who are de-unionizing school districts and firing teachers en masse.

They know that there's no need for a broad, educated population when your productive workers are an army of robots and computers.

So your conclusion is the opposite of the truth. If less IT staff is required, the school doesn't need to train people to be in IT staffs, so they need fewer teachers, not more.

argument in summary makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195072)

Cutting *support* because of the absence of licensing cost makes no sense at all. Heck, if some people are to believed costs for support would increase when using open source.

no, didn't RTFA and don't intend to either. Even if we're talking about "the cloud" it's still not a cost. It's simply organizations trading costly in-house knowhow for cheaper solutions leaving them at the mercy of others, who in theory (if aiming at providing the same level of support) would be better through their "synergies" (more experienced sysadmins or whatnot) - which, if the world was right, should serve to increase the status of work involved in cloud "solutions".

A stupid question for a stupid comment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195086)

The question is stupid whether it costs jobs. Should people waste time re-producing the wheel? Should we continue to produce buggy whips? Advancements have
always "cost jobs". But the fact is it frees people to move onto new inventions and add productivity rather than living in the past.

Well, he's right, to an extent. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195098)

Of course open source software costs jobs. You could employ a small army to re-impliment everything each time you needed something expanded. Or you could use a really horrible system and employ an army of IT workers to deal with it and work around it.

Open source software (and quality software in general) makes using these tools easier and cheaper. And so, for any given job, there's less work to do. Which means people hired to do the job. Which means less jobs.

And that's a good thing. That's efficiency. That's extra productiveness. But don't weep for the software engineers, because there seems to be a nigh infinate amount of problems to fix and streamline and automate.

Yes and it's a good thing. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195104)

Enabling people to do things more efficiently means that you don't need to pay as many people to do the same job. Money that would have been spent reinventing the wheel can now be spent on other things, like the actual goal of the company/organization, or paying IT to improve their services rather than just tread water.

Increases in efficiency are the only thing that have ever raised the standard of living. What is tricky is how the fruits of these improvements are distributed. That is where concern and energy should be placed, not trying to hold back progress.

A classic parable (1, Insightful)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195108)

There was an American who was given a tour of a Chinese government work project. The project consisted of the construction of several dams, canals and a series of highways that were to join various isolated portions of the vast country together. The American observer, upon seeing the vast army of workers, asked the Chinese officials why there were so many shovels and no tractors. The official responded to this question by explaining that they were not building a dam but instead were creating jobs. The American, seeing the government officials great pride at just how many jobs they were creating, asked the obvious question; âoeWhy donâ(TM)t you give them spoons?â

Copied from http://andrewkboyle.com/2011/06/21/digging-with-spoons/ [andrewkboyle.com] , but he probably copied it from somewhere else.

Egg Analogy (5, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195138)

Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.

Putting all your eggs in someone else's basket, one that is hosted God knows where, is an even worse idea.

Something tells me this cloud fad is just that; a passing trend. Oh, sure, non-technical management might love the idea of being able to cut staff and equipment costs by putting all their eggs in the cloud basket, but the first time said non-technical management is unable to access their remotely-stored eggs, for whatever reason, the shiny luster will fade and they'll come to the realization that the sysadmins they let go were far more valuable than previously thought.

Remote backups are always a good idea, but remote everything is not a winning strategy, IMO.

also with the cloud lack of local control is part (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195322)

also with the cloud lack of local control is part of it.

Now say some says run adobe CS 5 or auto cad with our remote cloud based systems saving you the cost of buying high end systems.

Now that may work at least for some time up till they force you to the next ver breaking older date files / makeing so you can't save files in a old ver.

Or say NO we can't install plug in X for you.

Some cloud systems rips your data off.

You have to download and reload data to move it from one app to a other as some cloud systems run each app in it's own VM that resets to the image on each boot.

The bandwidth needs add up fast.

This is FUD. OpenSource creates jobs! (1)

jerryjnormandin (1942378) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195160)

Hmm.. When I wanted to learn how to create a compiler I studied the gcc source! When I wanted to study kernel development I studied the Linux Kernel source. The knowledge that I picked up from my study has helped me along my career. I'd say OpenSource has created jobs.

Re:This is FUD. OpenSource creates jobs! (1)

jerryjnormandin (1942378) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195270)

Cloud services are going to redistribute IT needs. I believe companies can benefit by running their own Cloud. Security and Control is lost if you use a cloud offered by a vendor. Outsourcing overseas didn't work so is Cloud another attempt ? I really don't want to see the dumbing down of IT. If I ran a company, even if my data was encrypted, I'd prefer to have my data in my data center and an encrypted copy offsite for DR purposes. I think the Bean Counters of the World are going to leverage the Cloud for their own evil purposes. That being said I advise all of us to keep our data centers internal.

Re:This is FUD. OpenSource creates jobs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195338)

I read an earlier post from you that mentioned your wife. How the hell did you ever get married? My neighbor's ten year old daughter can write a more coherent paragraph than these two posts. Your writing sounds like something out of Dr. Seuss.

Re:This is FUD. OpenSource creates jobs! (2)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195324)

That's not creating a job, that's creating a worker's skills.

Creating a job means that there is a need for work to be done, and a flow of money sufficient to hire somebody to do it.

Nonsense. (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195162)

Jobs saved millions of dollars by leveraging Open Source software at Apple, and before that at NeXT.

*ducks*

Broken window fallacy (1)

nadaou (535365) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195204)

No, it creates jobs. Just elsewhere.

Read up on the Broken window fallacy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window [wikipedia.org]

I'd also suggest to read Henry Hazlitt's classic Economics in One Lesson. If nothing else it is a rather entertaining read.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_in_One_Lesson [wikipedia.org]
His main point is that you have to consider the whole picture, not just your own widget factory.

Re:Broken window fallacy (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195460)

No, it creates fewer jobs, just in new fields, while killing more jobs in existing ones.

What a stupid question and what a useless metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195208)

Every change "costs" jobs. Heck, a couple of years ago it was 70% farming/agriculture - want to go back there?
Jobs don't get "lost". New job opportunities pop up. Progress implies shifting of jobs. So can we please stop being all stupid about it?

Author out to lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195272)

Some of our developers here at my company like to use open source software. If anything it provides me more work everyday to support that crap than regularly licensed products. John Spencer is out to lunch.

Steam shovel costs jobs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195280)

new plan from congress to ban mechanical advantage. Also, electricity "isn't caused by humans"

Yeah, we know; what's next? (2)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195348)

A rising tide lifts all boats, but only if there are enough boats. What happens when automation removes all the jobs?

We know technology and efficiency remove the need for some jobs, and some people are out of work and have to do something else, but it's improving the standard of living, it's a good thing for society, Luddite fallacy, etc. all that. The thing is, history has shown than up till now, automation and technology may have eliminated some jobs but have created a roughly equal number of other jobs, such that people can still make enough money to support themselves and their families and enjoy this higher standard of living. What happens if automation removes jobs faster than it creates them? Or removes too many jobs all at once? I've read some stuff on post-labor economics, but it basically requires socializing or communizing (what a dirty word nowadays!!!) the ownership of the automation/technology for everyone to benefit, and I don't see that happening without a revolution of some sort.

Let History be your guide to free markets (2, Funny)

one_who_uses_unix (68992) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195354)

As western civilization has grown through the industrial revolution we have found that as technology replaces skill sets and workers it typically frees them up for more profitable work. A specific set of jobs is replaced, but those workers are then put to work on something that is ultimately more productive. In a command economy this would be a problem, in a capitalist economy those workers will be employed in the next role until that one is replaced as well.

way to many it people anyhow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38195356)

i seen this coming years ago.. enjoy! a billion people with the same skill set.. good going!

Just wait till cars make themselves and we have to fight to keep human jobs on the assembly line.. and when computers can fix themselves..

What do we do once our technology replaces us?

The wrong question (2)

CptJeanLuc (1889586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195382)

Well, I can see for an individual who wants an income in the IT sector it may be the right question for performing sub-optimization for that individual.

But looking at it from a macro-perspective, it is interesting to observe how the skewed distribution of wealth makes "workers" so eager to work and find new ways to spend all our waking moments generating even more wealth for the super-rich. It is a perfectly self-enforcing system where as soon as a "worker" has nothing to do (s)he focuses all energy of finding new ways to please the overlords. Because if we are not working, there is no income. And somehow nothing less than working 100% seems to cut it in order to live the lives we have come to expect. So we willingly spend most of our lives working until we are old and die, and most of the output of that work trickles up the pyramid to that "1%" group.

So instead of celebrating efficiency ("hooray, now we can all spend a little less time working without sacrificing our lifestyle"), we start worrying about this type of progress. Just shows that humanity has still not figured out the right way to organize as a society. Democracy and capitalism seems to be the best answer we have come up with so far, but these days with the Internet etc. it is becoming all the more visible how plagued our Western systems are by corruption and self-serving people in positions of power.

reuse (1)

CBravo (35450) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195474)

He would be against books because it contains too many ideas that can be freely reused. He would oppose forums on the internet because reviews from citizens cannot have a good quality and are bad for profession newspaper reviewers. And webshops should be forbidden: Bad for old fashion shops. And this email stuff costs too many jobs at the postal services.

Stop the efficiency!

The steam engine cost millions of jobs (2)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195480)

so we should all go back to manual looms and employ millions.

The Law of Large Number (of People) (2)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38195524)

The Law of Large Number (of People).

If something happens once in a million it is often considered a rare event. But that is wrong. If something happens once in a million for a million people, then it has happened to more than 300 Americans. If it happens once a year for each person it has happened 6000 times in the last twenty years. That is for the Americans alone. If we expand to a larger area, Europe + South America + Asia, those rare events aren't so rare. (If something happens once in a million years, well that is another story...)

Good ideas are rare. How many times can one come up with a really, really good idea in your life-time? Well, let us say that 1% of the population can come up with one good idea during their life-time. With 100,000,000 people coming up with good ideas then there are many. Good ideas get stuck. And software doesn't change their ideas as often as hardware (due to API, ABIs, spaghetti-complexities, NP-hard solutions, etc), there will be a increased difficulty in finding new ideas. On top of that we have patents... Patents suck. With more than a million competent developers around? The Law of Large Numbers makes its voice heard, prima facie.

That doesn't mean that innovation is gone, only that it takes _new_ efforts to find what is relevant, in an ever increasing cyberspace. The diversity of the platforms change, too! Thefore there contact surfaces for new developers are expanding. Expanding developer universe? But the contact surfaces are there. Just harder to find. Still, they are there! Yes. Use them.

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