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Outsourcing Winners and Losers

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the codemonkey dept.

Businesses 831

An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times has an article on the winners and losers of the outsourcing trend. It's a Q and A session with a distinguished panel of experts on the topic, including Professor M. Eric Johnson, who says that, 'Low-skill jobs like coding are moving offshore and what's left in their place are more advanced project management jobs.' Now I know coders aren't rocket scientists, but less advanced than project managers? Ouch."

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655771)


Re:FP (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655877)

I can only assume that by fp the poster means functional programming [] .

Offtopic, you may cry!

I would argue that it is not.

As long as the business world continues to hold the position that coding is a low skill job: 'Low-skill jobs like coding...' software will continue to suck (be unusable, buggy, insecure, incorrect). Now I don't argue that american software developers are any more qualified to write good software, in fact, I would argue that in the most important aspect [Mathematics education] they are some of the most under qualified. This is just to say that the business world seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what goes into writing good (correct) software and doesn't particularly care to put forth the time and effort to do so.


Necrophilia for Dummies (-1)

frogsarefriendly (723785) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655774)

I: Introduction

Very few text files have been written regarding the sexual tendencies and
practices of necrophiliacs. While most people would prefer to believe that
we do not exist we most certainly do as is obvious to anyone who visits a
cemetery during our nightly rampages. Necrophiliacs prefer to go about their
business alone; sharing is not a part of this alternative lifestyle as the
corpse usually wears out fairly quickly. This is not to say that the
occasional orgy involving four or five necrophiliacs and about a dozen or so
corpses does not occur, but it is very rare. In this file I will describe
common (and some uncommon) techniques which necrophiliacs use to gain
satisfaction from their stiff partners. Hopefully these vivid descriptions
will encourage you to go out to your local cemetery and to join our ranks!

II: Finding a partner

Finding a partner for your necrophiliac activities is definitely the hardest
part. You not only have to gain access to the corpse but you also have to
find one which suits your tastes. Granted, some necrophiliacs would screw
roadkill if given the chance but most of us are more discriminating. Your
chances depend upon where you pick up your date. If you have access to a
morgue it would definitely be your best bet as the corpses there are usually
the freshest and have not yet been treated for burial. They may be a bit
chilly because they've been lying in the meat locker for days but that
really shouldn't make a big difference to the determined necrophiliac.
Cemeteries are a bit harder to deal with as finding a screwable corpse is
harder to do. However, if you know how to interpret signs this shouldn't be
a problem. If a grave consists of a mound of fresh dirt and is covered with
flowers, chances are that the stiff hasn't been laying here for too long.
Rotting flowers on the mound usually hint to the state of the corpse as
well. Some people are exclusively into 'porking the bone', i.e. sex with
skeletons. In this case you can dig up almost any grave and hope that the
inhabitant hasn't yet disintegrated into dust. Try to scope out a fairly
secluded cemetery for your passions unless you like a sense of danger to go
along with the sex. Having anyone catch you in the act is NOT fun, and if
you're picked up by a cop chances are that you won't be able to screw
anything but Bubba behind bars for the next few decades. People are
generally not understanding of the necrophiliac lifestyle, so it will
probably be a long time before we can come out of the closet.

III: Preparation

Depending upon where you are at this point you'll have either a little or a
lot of work to do. The person in the morgue will obviously have to do little
more than to open the locker, pull the corpse out and bang away. If you're
one of the cemetery people you'll have more work to do. An experienced
necrophiliac is always equipped with the bare essentials: a shovel, Vaseline
and a box of rubbers. Why the shovel is needed should be obvious, but if the
ground is hard then you might need more equipment to dig up your date.
Vaseline is used to loosen the corpse up a bit. This makes it less likely
for a body part to break off while you're having fun and it also prevents
your mantool from becoming too irritated while screwing the dried out pussy.
The BOX of condoms is used to play it safe; no necrophiliac should be
without it. You never know which STDs your partner had during his/her
lifetime, and believe me, it doesn't get any better after the person dies.
You can put on more than one rubber for extra protection if it is warranted,
but screwing a corpse without protection is just plain stupid unless you
want to be the next date for a necrophiliac. If you're in a cemetery try to
drag the corpse out of the grave and behind a bush or to another secluded
place. Pumping away in the grave may seem more convenient, but it's a severe
disadvantage to you if you need to take off in a hurry. Sometimes the corpse
is too fragile to be moved; in that case make it fast. Or just break off the
head, hand or lower torso and take it with you for added convenience.

Note from the pixel fairy: This is where i must warn you! Vaseline dissolves
latex, meaning it will eat through your or dead-boy's condom. Use KY Jelly
or anything else that's not oil-based.

Part IV: Techniques

So now you've got a stiff lying seductively in front of you, but you have no
idea how to start. How you proceed from this point onward really depends
upon what kind of person you are. The corpse will last longer if you treat
it gently and with care, but if you prefer to go all out you'll probably
receive greater satisfaction. There are many differences between screwing a
live and a dead person which one needs to be aware of. Firstly, a corpse
will never tell you to get off of it if you're being a bit rough and it will
never complain no matter what kinky sexual practices you use it for.
Screwing a corpse is also much more predictable because you can raise an
arm, leg or whatever and it will still be in that position when you reach
for it again. Take the arms and gently lock them in an embrace behind your
back, or spread the legs to make sex a bit easier. If you want a great
blowjob then lubricate your partner's mouth, lock it to your preferred
width, insert and go for it. Although there's no tongue stimulation it's
still worthwhile, and it's also safer than conventional sex. Corpses can
also be recycled if treated properly. If you're a proficient embalmer you
can keep a corpse for over five years if it has been properly embalmed.
That's free sex whenever you want it! You naturally don't want to be too
rough with an embalmed corpse though as they are more fragile. One final
advantage of screwing corpses is that they are always in abundance. Based
upon your sexual preferences you can designate a cemetery or a morgue as
your territory and always find fresh partners to screw. Plus you don't have
to resort to cheesy pickup lines or spend all your money in order to get a
date. necrophiliac is a passion which is cheaply satisfied.

Note from the pixel fairy: Necrophilia is not so cheaply enjoyed unless you
already have such direct access.

V. Conclusion

I hope that this text file will encourage you to go out and try necrophilia.
Not many people do it, but that's precisely what makes it so much fun; it
makes you feel special! If no living person would touch you with a 10 foot
pole then try having sex with a corpse! Some of them are real beauties and
it's an experience you'll never forget. There is no greater experience for a
virgin than having his/her virginity taken by a corpse. Anyways, have fun
and if you have any experiences you'd like to share then by all means do!
Maybe necrophilia will enter the mainstream because of your efforts.

Re:Necrophilia for Dummies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655945)

you should submit this as a kuro5hin story. It might make front page.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655776)

first post!#@$!#@$!

Those that do (3, Insightful)

Davak (526912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655783)

Those that do... do...

Those that can't... teach?

Who is he calling low-level?


Re:Those that do (5, Funny)

AsimovBesterClarke (701529) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655842)

FWIW, and to bring it back on on topic:

Those that can, do.
Those that cannot: teach.
Those that connot teach: manage.

So, I guess 'those that can' are on the bottom rung, huh?

Re:Those that do (0)

Neop2Lemus (683727) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655862)

I thought that "Those who can't teach, teach gym"

Re:Those that do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655874)

No, those that know the deep hiden meaning of 'assume' teach gym.

Re:Those that do (5, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655896)

You're missing one very importan one:

Those that cannot manage: sue.

Re:Those that do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655871)

Those that can do neither usually bitch about both. Funny thing is that they get paid for it. I just want to come up with a web site like slash dot and just "Unbiasedly" report stuff. If anything comes out of it, at least I get paid and we find out who is the biggest asshole. Comedian... Racist: Jerry, I hate Blacks, Jews and Chinese. Jerry: Well, I just happen to have some Chinese Blacks and Jews Backstage, Let's bring em out.

Re:Those that do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655912)

Don't let them outsource my Alex!!

Crap (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655784)

Half the talent from universities is terrible anyway, no wonder coding is being shot off shore.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655786)


Wow... low level (5, Insightful)

Zelet (515452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655789)

I have programmed. I am VERY bad at it. Sure I CAN code but I can't do it well. To find a quality programmer is not easy - I've tried. I wonder if this is why most software sucks ... because people think ANYBODY can do it.

Software sucks? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655814)

Most software doesn't suck. Most users, however...

Re:Wow... low level (4, Insightful)

n3k5 (606163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655940)

I have programmed.
_Programmed_ is the keyword here. I'm sure you would have been able to get better at it if you had gotten some quality education and put enough time and effort in it; but you're right, writing good programs is a very complicated task. As your projects become bigger and more complex, you deal with software engineering, data engineering, all kinds of very academic stuff.

However, the quote mentions _coding_. Coding is not about writing high-quality software, it's about hacking together stuff like GUI frontends for simple database-driven business applications in a way that somewhat satisfies the customer and maximises the manufacturer's profit. Coders don't think about software architecture, that's what their bosses do. Coders are given specifications for small tasks and hack together some code that does approximately what the specs require, according to mostely rudimentary quality assurance testing. Coders generate heaps over heaps of cumbersome, hard-to-maintain, very redundant, error-prone code that could be easily replaced by a concise, reusable, highly configurable, transparent (as in easy to debug) implementation written by a good programmer.

However, it's mostly a non-trivial problem to find good programmers and pay them adequately, too. That's why most software is implemented (not necessarily planned) by bad coders who are indeed doing very low-skill work. And yes, that's one of the reasons why most software sucks.

Having said that, I'll go and RTFA now :-)

Re:Wow... low level (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655952)

To find a quality programmer is not easy
Sure it is, but to find a quality programmer that actually wants to stop what they're doing and work for you is a little more difficult. The sky is not falling every time qualified candidates don't line up for every mediocre job. There have got to be lots of cruddy code-monkey jobs that can be gladly outsourced-- (Here, please take this complicated bloated ANSI English-language application and localize it with Unicode, but please don't touch anything important or add features.)


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Outsourcing (0, Troll)

CoboyNeal (730397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655790)

We had a company meeting about outsourcing last week and I managed to get minutes ahead of time.

I quickly formed a new company and aged it.

Ahh you all should be so lucky to read as much Dilbert as me.

Why on Earth would I outsource losers? (4, Funny)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655795)

I have plenty of them in-house already.

In an unrelated story... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655796)

New York Times reporters have been outsourced by 100 chimps with 100 laptops.

Re:In an unrelated story... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655832)

Thats not outsourcing, outsorcing creates a WORSE product.

Re:In an unrelated story... (0, Troll)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655867)

Plus many people are tired of fooling with people that can't speak decent english. I for one, have gotten to the point where I always ask for someone in states before I talk to tech. support.

Re:In an unrelated story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655835)

That's a blatant fabrication. The reporters are the same, it's the editors that were outsourced, and not to chimps, but to slashdot. The new laptops went to marketing.

Re:In an unrelated story... (2, Funny)

umofomia (639418) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655856)

New York Times reporters have been outsourced by 100 chimps with 100 laptops.
That's not entirely off the mark [] . :)

Well... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655798)

but less advanced than project managers? Ouch.

Truth hurts huh!

Programming is Creating... (5, Insightful)

JanMark (547992) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655800)

I strongly feel that programming is a creative process, and anyone that describes it as a low-end job, does noet knows what programming is. It's like out-sourcing art-painters to an other country and letting the important managers of the painting-creating process say inside, to send e-mails like: "Don't forget to use a lot of blue in the right corner, art-buyers like red."

Re:Programming is Creating... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655843)

Sure, it's creative. But it's low-end because I can find hundreds of folks in India that can do the same job that you do for less money.

Re:Programming is Creating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655949)

Programs will continute to be a wide variety of pretty/ugly until programmers embrace engineering fundementals. It's all about controling failure. Give up and die, is not controlling failure any more than crashing a 747 when a passengers tray table won't return to the locked and upright position is.

Computer Scientists might want to look into developing better languages and better tools to ease the burden of this task. Either way the problem is unchanged.

Advanced project managers... (4, Funny)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655802)

who, since the coder jobs are overseas, probably don't know how to code themselves. Furthermore, because the developers are now overseas, the project managers have to coordinate with the language, distance, and cultrual gap, despite probably not knowing how to program. It's no wonder software development has become ridiculous. By the way, project manager with programming experience for hire right here.
Plus I have a fine art degree... try finding that overseas!

Re:Advanced project managers... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655834)

Degree in fine arts? So you ARE qualified to serve fries with my shake! Hop to it, Boy.

Overseas they have degrees in hard science, not fine arts. Basketweavers don't hold degrees in India.

Re:Advanced project managers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655838)

the obvious solution is to ship out the project manager jobs as well.

Off-Shore (5, Interesting)

Davak (526912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655803)

My hospital uses Russian programmers. The entire job of OUR coders is to learn and debug the Russian code...

Talking to them it seems that the majority of their time is really spent rewriting the code in a more readable, more secure format. However, they don't have the time or manpower to do it all.

Therefore, more bugs get in the final product...

What an odd system... especially in a hospital were errors can mean lives.


Re:Off-Shore (5, Funny)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655854)

They're probally just used to living in Soviet Russia, where bad project terminates you.

Re:Off-Shore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655858)

in a hospital were errors can mean lives
tee hee.

Outsourcing managers (5, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655805)

Outsourcing managers is a big no-no. Suddenly, the company is not American anymore.

Re:Outsourcing managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655947)

uh is the company really American when 99% of its operation's is foreign?

Re:Outsourcing managers (1)

XorNand (517466) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655991)

How did this get modded as Insightful? When I think of an "American company", I think of one that is owned by Americans or one that primarily employs Americans. The nationality of the PHB paper-pushers is inconsequential. Additionally, with the growth of multinational corporations (being owned by massive, international mutual funds and having bases of operations on every continent), it's getting fuzzier and fuzzier to label a company "American", "British", "South African", etc.

fscked company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655806)

From his webpage: "Current research topics = Impact of information on supply chain integration; web-centric product design collaboration; managing logistics for products with short life cycles"
Sounds like an ideal CEO of a FSCKed company. Wanker.

coders are less advanced than architects (3, Interesting)

civilengineer (669209) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655807)

I don't know about project managers being more advanced than coders, but I am sure architects are more advanced than coders. SO, if the project manager is an architect, yes he is more advanced than the coder.

Re:coders are less advanced than architects (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655853)

SO, if the project manager is an architect, yes he is more advanced than the coder.

That's true, but "architect" and "project manager" are different jobs. You may have one person performing both roles, but they're different skill sets, with only a little overlap.

An architect designs the application/project/whatever, at least on a code level, and quite possibly including hardware, network details, etc. A project manager, managers the project - liasing with clients, helping gather requirements, ensuring team members are fully-booked but not over-booked with work, keeping an eye on the deadline and financials, etc. So yeah, some overlap - an architect will need to talk to the client to find out their requirements, etc, but may well not be concerned with making sure that all the programmers have enough to do.

Like I said, the two roles may be being performed by the same person, but there's no reason to suppose that that's the case. I've never actually worked with a technical project manager, let alone one who could do an architect's job. (Conversely, I would make a mediocre project manager, at least at the moment)

Theory vs. Practice (4, Insightful)

poemofatic (322501) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655957)

-If your software project is pushes the boundaries then programming is more difficult.
-If your project is underfunded, underspecified, and open to change, then managing it is more difficult.

Now, where on this spectrum do you believe most software development efforts fall?

Re:coders are less advanced than architects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655929)

Usually an architect is an ex-coder, though (if they are any good) - otherwise their feel for how long it takes to do stuff is way off. A Project Manager, though.... In my experiences, PMs are often people who have paid a few grand to PMI, after dropping out of their DBS or MBA for being to stupid. If the project succeeds, it's because of them, if it fails, it's because of the "hostile techies". Only PMs who were once coders are actually any good...

Low skill coders kicking out the short int's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655815)

Low skill coders write programs that work sometimes, are more or less good enough, and fail in surprising unpredictable ways.

High skill coders write the code that governs thrust vectoring on the F-22, radar imaging for various systems, and things the either never fail, or fail so elegantly and even beautifully that calling the events failures seems a gross misnomer.

Guess which ones work where? Unfortunately, beautiful butterflies often emerge from nasty or even poisonous catipillers. No catipillers no butterflies.

Makes sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655816)

When the article mentions "low-skill" jobs, they're talking about the kinds of people that simply write code -- and can't do much else. This may come as a surprise to many of you but project management is the glue that holds together many of these distributed projects. These are the people that companies which outsource need. They don't need coders. They can't get them from India or Pakistan or China. What they need are people to pull the sh*t together.

Re:Makes sense... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655885)

here in OZ you'll never get a job as even a coder without a degree. How can you call a job requiring a degree low/unskilled? As for project managers.... how on earth will they co-ordinate a bunch of curry munchers who can't speak english hardly at all?

Re:Makes sense... (1)

ChaoticChaos (603248) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655924)


Re:Makes sense... (4, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655941)

How can you call a job requiring a degree low/unskilled?

You're suggesting that education == skill?

Re:Makes sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655992)

"How can you call a job requiring a degree low/unskilled?"

So simple. There's more and more university degree holders out there. You gotta call them something. Wake up. Universities are a cult, and their only objective is to make money, and lots of it. Period.

what crud (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655817)

Ever called american express's card line if your an aussie customer? you get to know exactly what outsourcing so called low level work means to you the CUSTOMER.... If that experience was anything to go buy, i sudder to think what it would be like getting something as complex as a major IT project completed would be like, just getting them to take my name correctly was a task!

Re:what crud (1)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655865)

If that experience was anything to go buy, i sudder to think

You have earned yourself a visit from the speling police. You are charged with first degree bad spelling. However, the judge has forgiven your misspelling "by" as "buy", on appeal from SCO and Micro$oft.

google link (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655820)

i am an anonymous karma whore ut sourcing+new+york

fourth one down

Google partner link (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655822) ey/07out.html?ex=1071378000&en=9b0b3f301239bb62&ei =5062&partner=GOOGLE []

Slashdot Editors: Is it so fucking hard to get a Google partner link? What do you guys do all day?

Re:Google partner link (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655879)

What editors? Some code hack in Bangalore put this article together.

Partner Link Found! Inform the media! (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655942)

Slashdot Editors: Is it so fucking hard to get a Google partner link? What do you guys do all day?
Gawd, we've been through this a hundred times. DMCA, changing link conventions, yada yada yada. If you're too lazy or paranoid to get a free NYTimes account, fine. But stop beating a dead horse already.

Assemblers (3, Insightful)

insmod_ex (724714) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655824)

While not all coders are rocket scientists, I think the ones who use Assembly everyday are the ones that have six brains. I can barely understand all this converting binary to this, hex to that, etc...

1 man company (0)

xlyz (695304) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655825)

advance is proportional to hierarchical level. be ready to have homeland company with just ceo, and everybody else outsourced abroad.

Re:1 man company (1)

aldoman (670791) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655908)

That wouldn't work.... there are already signs that (at least in call centres) the current situation in india is unsustainable due to the fact that the people get burnt out and quit so damn much - 50% of the employees quit every year. The hiring companies for these sorts of places are having problems making ends meet. The churn rate is going up, and all the time you have to pay more and more advertising the jobs and training the staff. People back home are not happy with the level of service from some of these places. A few of them are excellent - better than the 'homeland' ones infact. But most of them are absolute shit. They can't care less and sometimes you can't even understand what they are saying thanks to their accent. In the end the jobs will start coming back - but it will probably result in the permentant creating of the professional middle class in Asia and therefore more money flowing back to western companies in banking and other such services.

Low skill, or low social status? (4, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655826)

The whole interview is a way to blow smoke up the ass of the managerial class that is shipping these jobs offshore, by somehow letting them think that it really is a matter of merit that their job is intact.

It's about legitimation: "my" skill is a high-level, professional skill, and I "deserve" my salary because of it (because the companies are run by people I went to college with, etc.) "Your" skills are replaceable and commodifiable, because I dress more like the people who run the mutual funds that own the company.

The cultural perception element of this sort of thing is difficult to quantify in economic terms, so economists - especially ones busy telling the managerial crowd exactly what they want to hear - tend to ignore it. But it's a reality.

Not that I'm a protectionist for these sorts of jobs, mind you - at the end of the day, I think that the creation of middle-class professionals in the developing world is a good thing. But I can still recognize self-serving disingenuous rhetoric when I see it.

Re:Low skill, or low social status? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655886)

Try not to act so bitter. Coding is a menial job.

Re:Low skill, or low social status? (3, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655944)

I'm not a coder. I can code (to mediocre ability), but I don't do it for a living. I have a job, and my income is slightly higher than it was during the boom. And - I went to the same schools and can dress the same way as the managerial class I'm talking about. In fact, that's probably why I do have work - I can pass as an MBA if pressed, for brief periods of time. It's like a minor super-power.

What is true, however, is that it is market saturation and general market perception of value, not level of difficulty, or the education or intelligence required, that has a lot to do with things. Contracting is difficult work that requires considerable knowledge. But it's considered a working-class job. Being a runway model takes almost no intelligence, but they are well-paid professionals. Coding is only menial because supply outstrips demand now - there's nothing intrinsic about it.

Big Words, Little Understanding (0)

SuperMario666 (588666) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655989)

Is it just me or did this guy miss the point of the article?

What's missing? (2, Interesting)

neiffer (698776) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655827)

Interesting article, but... The missing point is that a lot of companies see outsourcing (especially overseas) as a solution but a lot of firms end up dumping projects or spending a lot of cash cleaning up mistakes and errors. I have a couple of close friends that are mid-level coders and project managers in for big-name retail firms that are constantly complaining that their jobs have been reduced to recoding poorly coded outsource projects. THE QUESTION IS: Can you really export intellectual work?

it's their loss (5, Insightful)

dorlthed (700641) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655828)

Some may think this is the best way to do things at their company, but it's essentially turning their coding process into a factory job.

Look at it this way: would you rather have the wristwatch that is hand crafted to perfection, works better, and will last forever, or would you rather buy the watch that came off of the assembly line, always loses time, and will break on you in a year or two?

By leaving the coding process to people outside of the company and its interests, and thereby making the whole process more mechanical than creative, they are essentially assuring themselves the lowest-quality product. It's unfortunate if they think that's the best way to go, but in my opinion they will eventually get what they paid for, so to speak.

The managers and owners want the ones that break. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655913)

Means customers have to buy new ones continuously.
Profit, profit, profit.

Re:it's their loss (5, Insightful)

scottwimer (628340) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655946)

I think you have identified the key difference in perspectives. You can either have things built by craftsmen or things that are built according to some process.

The thing is, craftsmen don't scale very well. That is because, well, it takes a lot of time to become really good at all the different aspects of building whatever it is they are building. Craftsmen are a scarce commodity, regarless the trade. On the other hand, processes where each person does a part can scale. Further, you can get consistent output from such processes. And, since the output can be consistent, you can improve it incrementally, measuring the impact of each process or training change you implement. (Yes, I know that sometimes the output is consistently bad, but that is the explict fault fo the people/person in charge of the process, not the people in it.)

Can you imaging the price for automobiles built by "craftsmen"? Actually, you don't have to, just pick some number greater than 400,000 USD and you have it.

Craftsmen don't scale, they're a poor route to take for processes that need to scale.

All that said, I'm not yet convinced that software development has reached the point of maturity where we understand it enough to be able to move from a craftsmen oriented system to a process oriented system and still produce decent software.


Re:it's their loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655981)

Look at it this way: would you rather have the wristwatch that is hand crafted to perfection, works better, and will last forever, or would you rather buy the watch that came off of the assembly line, always loses time, and will break on you in a year or two?

That depends. If the assembly line casio watch costs $5, and the handmade piaget watch costs $10,000 many people will get the casio.

Winners and Losers (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655855)

Am I the only one who read the Headline (this is Slashdot, after all) and wondered why?

If you've identified the losers, why would you then go on to outsource them? Why not just fire them and be done with it?

Re:Winners and Losers (1)

BSDKaffee (729432) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655900)

Personally I'd like to outsource the Winners.

Coder vs. Mgr is an old, boring flamefest (5, Informative)

waveguide (166484) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655857)

...that we've seen over and over. More interesting is the mistaken impression that it's only coding jobs going to India. Look at Business Week [] for another take.

heh. (0)

nertz_oi (596157) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655859)

A little more sophisticated version is: It's being pocketed by companies in the form of profits. One step further and you say those profits are either going to go as returns to the investors in those companies, or they're going to go into new investment by those companies. Those savings enable me, if I am an investor, to consume more and therefore contribute to job recreation, and if I am a company, to re-invest and create jobs.

But what happens when people stop purchasing goods and services from companys who outsource?
Eventually (pretty soon it seems) people are going to stand up and revolt against companies who lay off thousands and move operations where they can pay workers $18000 for doing what a worker here would demand $30000.

A simple "Hey, just play along and eventually, if we make alot of money, we'll give you your job back" doesn't cut it.

Re:heh. (0)

Sarojin (446404) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655951)

When you just lost your job because of outsourcing, you can't afford to pick and choose - you go with the cheap (outsourced) product.

Well said (4, Interesting)

civilengineer (669209) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655860)

In the future there are two roads. One is to look backward and hang on to what we think we're entitled to. The other is to recognize what has made America. Our virtues lie in a flexible and open, technology friendly, risk-taking, entrepreneurial, market-driven system. This is exactly the same type of challenge farmers went through in the late 1800's, sweatshop workers went through in the early 1900's, and manufacturing workers did in the first half of the 80's. We've got to focus on setting in motion a debate that pushes us into new sources of job creation rather than bemoaning the loss. There are Republicans and Democrats alike who are involved in this protectionist backlash. They're very vocal right now, and they need to be challenged.

Bioinformatics, wireless technologies, AI, robotics, there are so many fields which are budding. So many opportunites. Why do we have to look back at the financial software jobs that went away? We have much more interesting projects to be done.

What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655864)

You (the American software industry) gave away the tools to the Third World for free. Now, you wonder why outsourcing is starting to happen and jobs are starting to disappear. Frankly, you deserve what you get.

Re:What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655920)

I agree. Americans and Europeans are idiots.

coding (3, Insightful)

ibmman85 (643041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655868)

I can't believe theyre saying coding is low-skill.. its not like just anyone can code.. ive been in and around computers for 12 years and although I'm an absoloute hardware freak I still find programming rather difficult (I guess part of that is because i just can't remember alot of it and I have problems with some math, if anyone has any suggestions that would be nice ^_^) saying that ok yeah maybe it is something that can be more easily outsourced but it is definitely not easy..

Re:coding (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655889)

No country has a monopoly on coding talent; particularly since all you need is a $500 computer, a free OS, and a compiler.

Not better overseas, not worse either... (3, Interesting)

El_Ge_Ex (218107) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655870)

'Low-skill jobs like coding are moving offshore and what's left in their place are more advanced project management jobs.'

These statements naturally assume that Norht American and European coders are smarter, but for those coming out of college now, this is not the case.

Example, I remember at one CS program, the OS class was 9 weeks of learning how to _use_ Microsoft Windows.

Poor souls...


Re:Not better overseas, not worse either... (1)

tealover (187148) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655971)

Did you go to a job training school or a community college? I've never seen that type of course in a four year school.

We have to be careful what we call a CS Program.

Low-skill coders, your days are numbered (-1, Redundant)

plierhead (570797) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655875)

Ha ha, for once I decided to RTFA and found this gem - pleased I am to bring this to the attention of the slashdot hordes, and I await their vituperuos denunciations of Mr. Johnson with unbridled enthusiasm.

MR. JOHNSON Out in the Bay Area there are plenty of folks who would love to create a little bit of protectionism around their I.T. jobs, but we are far better off letting a lot of those jobs go. Low-skill jobs like coding are moving offshore and what's left in their place are more advanced project management jobs.

I only gave it a brief look (2, Insightful)

Circuit Breaker (114482) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655899)

(It's slashdot, afterall - I wouldn't want to be thrown out for actually _reading_ the article).

All of the participants come from a business administration perspective. It's not really a wonder they think moving elements around in a gantt chart is "higher level work" than writing lines of code.

It would be a much easier world for the Business Administration guys if software development actually _was_ a low skill job. If it can be specified well enough to be automated by human drones, it will be automated by machines - and then we'll need a higher skilled developer to supervise these machines.

They should discuss outsourcing management - it's the next logical step.

Re:I only gave it a brief look (2, Insightful)

evilquaker (35963) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655961)

All of the participants come from a business administration perspective. It's not really a wonder they think moving elements around in a gantt chart is "higher level work" than writing lines of code.

And most of the posters here come from a coding perspective (either in theory or practice). So it's no wonder that most of the replies indicate that writing a few lines of Perl (or C++ for the really advanced) is "higher level work" than managing all of the business/marketing/technical aspects of a project and/or product.

Re:I only gave it a brief look (1)

budGibson (18631) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655965)

I could not agree more.

Look at the countries on the receiving end of outsourcing. China has lost almost as many manufacturing jobs as it has gained. Why? Automation. As work becomes commoditized, it looks for solutions based on price. Ultimately, all routine manual labor is replaced by machines.

Now, consider project management. There is more to it than Gantt charts. I would argue that the main innovation in open source is distributed project management (XP, unit testing, continuous integration, open packages with standard interfaces to remove the need to recode the wheel). Well, what's happened here? We're actually automating project management.

The question becomes, "Why shouldn't anyone anywhere in the world be able to participate in the information economy at any level?"

Project Managment is harder (1)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655918)

Programmers take a logical series of instructions and then type the correct order and software comes out and most of the time works well.

Project managers take a logical series of instructions and then managed to screw the order up so beyond beliefand have to wait for other people to sort it out. As such everyone has to work harder


Just trust the CEOs and the Free Traitors..... (2, Insightful)

kucinich_4prez (730587) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655919)

From the article:

There is an assumption by protectionists that these jobs are going somewhere else, and all this money has been pocketed by C.E.O.'s who take it home. A little more sophisticated version is: It's being pocketed by companies in the form of profits. One step further and you say those profits are either going to go as returns to the investors in those companies,
A even more sophisticated version is: the vast majority of those increased profits is being pocketed by the upper 5% income bracket.

or they're going to go into new investment by those companies.
Or maybe going to increased CEO salary, or more advertising and spin.....

Those savings enable me, if I am an investor, to consume more and therefore contribute to job recreation, Or maybe job creation in India?

and if I am a company, to re-invest and create jobs. That's important because I agree that we are migrating jobs away, some of which will never return, nor should they. Nor should we continue to subsidize these multinationals with corporate welfare, tax breaks, or military protection..... Also....

It's a race to the bottom if we spend all our energy trying to protect existing sources of job creation, as the politicians in the U.S. Congress are inclined to do. The problem is that globalization is growing asymmetrically, so initially it creates more supply than demand. We're living through that asymmetry right now, and that has caused a potentially dangerous political backlash. The Chinese, for example, are reluctant to transform their habits from savers to consumers because they're losing jobs through the reform of their own economy, and they don't have social security or retirement. Over time there is a rising tide. But the political process is not that patient.
Translation: "Just trust us CEO/globalists/investors, and everything will be fine....

Well it's kind of true (5, Interesting)

strider3700 (109874) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655921)

As a coder turned project manager I fell that my current position is harder then my old coding job. The demands are higher the blame falls entirely on me and the worst part of all, I have to deal directly with the customers. As a coder I could work on things in small pieces and just meet the requirments, as the manager/designer I have to know how those pieces will go together and recognize the obstacles before hand. Really for the little extra pay I get for the new job I'd go back to being a coder if it wasn't for the lack of job security.
I know I could outsource my coders, but that's mostly due to the design being complete enough that anyone can just sit back and code up exactly to spec. It's not hard to code when given "you need a box that takes in X out puts Y and here's how you convert X to Y". I would guess that you couldn't outsource a design of " We need something that does Z. I suppose my job could be outsourced but I already find dealing with the customers over the phone in the specification gathering stage quite difficult. I happen to know their markets quite well and that tends to be how I get through. If I didn't understand the market then I'd be screwed. So yeah someone that knows the market including all of the little local issues(taxes, strange holidays, legal issues...) could do my job from just about anywhere in the world, It's over the phone anyways. Someone that doesn't know of the little things couldn't do it.

When I looked into outsourcing our coding I decided not to.
Reasons include
- my programmers are already paid slightly below national average and the cost savings wouldn't be huge.

- My programmers are proven known pieces in the puzzle. I know which guy does what best and I can pretty accurately estimate delivery schedules based on that.

- I like working with my guys, they help out a lot when I do design or come up with ideas on things we may want to try.

- shipping jobs away from here doesn't help me or anyone else enough to be worth pissing the locals off.

- If I screw over my workers by shipping their jobs away, who will be their to back me when the owner decides someone else can do mine.

Easy for them to say... (2, Interesting)

calstraycat (320736) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655928)

Great. Another group of pinheads whose livelihoods are unaffected by the changes telling us about the wonderful advantages of outsourcing. Anyone who disagrees is a "protectionist" which just a substitute for the not-so-PC term "commie". And, they fail to mention that most of the countries that the jobs are outsourced to have a very strong "protectionist" bent.

If they are going to have a round table discussion of this issue, they should at least have representation from someone who is affected by the outsourcing rather than just a handful of ivory tower elitist phonies.

"More Advanced Project Management" (2, Interesting)

tealover (187148) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655930)

I think what they were trying to say is one-dimensional coders are fast becoming dinosaurs. These days in the corporate world, programmers have to demonstrate added-valued.

They can't just sit in their cubes and complete isolated tasks that no one outside of their direct managers know about. The solution providers that get noticed by the people who make the decisions to outsource are the ones who understand that technology in and of itself isn't a reason to keep someone employed, not when that same technology can be mastered by someone at 1/10th the cost.

What is needed (and is sorely lacking) are people who can connect the pieces, be it technology or corporate understanding and provide global solutions, particularly in situations where the questions aren't even known yet.

Where I work, many of the programmers if not checked on every 30 minutes just sit around and waste valuable time. They don't try to learn about the business. They don't try to integrate their current knowledge with future technologies. They don't try to position themselves for the changing corporate environment. And then they get shocked when they get laid off or rumors of outsourcing prop up.

I don't particularly like Microft technology but most of our products are built on top of it and can be extended by things like VBA/VBS. I'm trying to learn it so that I can give the upper management the things that they want. To that end, I've bought books, gone to Kinkos to blow up object models, etc. On more than one occassion I've been asked why I'm doing such things by the other programmers. I try to explain it to them but they just act like I'm stupid.

Maybe I am, but I think I'm being pragmatic.

Definition of coding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655931)

Do we know what definition of "coding" Mr. Johnson was using? Maybe he doesn't realize what programming is, and was equating it with data entry, which is also called coding (you look at what people filled out on the survey and then enter it into the computer, e.g. reducing free-form answers to multiple choice).

Re:Definition of coding? (1)

Roydd McWilson (730636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655970)

Do we know what definition of "coding" Mr. Johnson was using? Maybe he doesn't realize what programming is, and was equating it with data entry, which is also called coding (you look at what people filled out on the survey and then enter it into the computer, e.g. reducing free-form answers to multiple choice).
That's a good point.

just another example.... (1)

duber007 (180719) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655948)

...of people who assume they can manage any situation/group of people because they have a business can you manage something without understanding even the basics of what it is you are supposed to manage? I've met way too many people with business degrees who assume they are always going to be my boss because that's what they've been told by dumbasses like Dr. Johnsohn I would trust someone without an engineering background to produce a "Design of an Automated Shop Floor Material Handling System with Inventory Considerations".....and people wonder where this six sigma and lean manufacturing crap comes from - how about just calling it common sense, instead of wasting millions of dollars on bullshit training sessions?

Try Pure Skill (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655950)

'Low-skill jobs like coding are moving offshore and what's left in their place are more advanced project management jobs.'

So North American's are the only ones with any skills? The coding jobs aren't low skill, they're pure skill, which is precisely the reason they're being outsourced. They don't require presonal connections, expensive hardware (relative to other professions), locality, even communication is significantly less than in many other professions. The reason that in the past low skill = offshore, is because high skill = expensive equipment, which is easier to produce and maintain in western nations. But now the skills in IT jobs are much closer to theory than labour and they don't require a lot of expensive hardwar. All they need is the skills, a computer, and the specs and they're set.

Perhaps the problem is a lack of... (1)

The Spanish Ninja (726892) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655966)

coherent standards. I used to be quite a good programmer. Then I took a break for a few years. When I came back, Java had moved past version 1.0, Visual Basic had replaced BASIC, Object Oriented Programming was all the rage, and the old--style procedural programming methods I had learned were regarded as archaic crap. Javascript was cool, and I had never even hard of it.

Every year it seems somebody comes out with something new, usually Microsoft. In their efforts to dominate all markets, they have changed everything they could, and if you want to be "in" you have to do it their way. Other people refuse to change and so continue to code in the old styles. So now, with all these new things, I find myself left in the dust. All the methods of writing a good program I was taught have been thrown out. Not nearly enough emphasis is put on documentation anymore.

By now you're probably thinking I'm some kind of geezer or something...heh. I'm 22, and once again, Microsoft is at the root of all my problems. Well, them and the W3C. And Sun. Bastards!! All of them! Now if you'll excuse me, I have some catching up to do.

Low skilled.. my foot.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655968)

Sorry to break your dream. Not all work being outsourced is "low-level".

GE has a very large R&D center in India. Intel has one and there are countless others like Oracle,Nortel,SGI,Cisco, Ericsson,IBM. Isn't R&D *way* different from low level menial coding?.Are these low skill jobs in any sense?
Please don't project the employees of outsourced projects as sweatshop worker zombies doing repetitive tasks like making Nike shoes. /m ktg2.htm /xml/02/10 /21/021021hnindia.xml?s=IDGNS

How long before we can outsource at the C level? (3, Interesting)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655972)

If we could outsource at the C-level there would be significantly more money available to companies to hire IT staff and skilled workers. C-Level = CEO, CFO, CIO, CPO, and of course C3P0.

Outsourcing is an extremely short-sighted solution to increased quarterly profitability. It simply boils down to the fact that C level people and their cronies COST TOO MUCH and in order for them to keep receiving the same level of compensation (while keeping shareholders happy) they need to squeeze out every last bit of cash out of every other expense.

I plan to start a new company soon which deals with outsourcing, except you will pay large premiums for me to come in and fix the disaster created by the offshore developers. Mark may words boy, and mark them well, offshore outsourcing is going to be one of the biggest largescale disasters in the history of US business. However as I read the ever increasing reports of outsourcing disasters [] , I am beginning to realize that there is money to be made here! :) Also, smarter companies that want to hold or gain market share my begin to realize that not outsourcing gives them a competitive advantage and keeps customers happy [] .

Also, I wonder if C-Level types forget about the geopolitical instability of the world. Isn't the US at war right now? What if Pakistan decided to go cut all the fiber optic cable connecting India to the US? Oh the mess this is going to create. I laugh at the nearsighted fools!

Coding != Software Engineering (3, Insightful)

BenJeremy (181303) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655974)

This is the common mistake many big companies make. Offshoring IP development in the form of engineering is bad on so many levels - I have yet to see effective software engineering done by an Asian "offshore" outfit.

I believe this has something to do with Western Culture.

At any rate, the best success I've seen is to turn over detailed designs for offshore coders to implement, but even that can be of questionable quality, unless strict supervision is applied.

Do I seem cynical? I've seen some great IP development flushed down the drain in the rush to "cheap" Indian companies who've bait-and-switched personnel and taken 3-to-4 times the resources and ultimately, MORE MONEY to complete a project, and the results were very poor.

At any rate, there is a big difference between a software engineer and a programmer, and it's more than simply a case of following a software development process. Creativity has been a hallmark of American and European engineering, going back centuries - and it's an integral part of a successful program that develops IP.

Low level job like coders (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655976)

What a bunch of crap.

I had a (guest) professor at university once, who was working for a outsourcing company. Obviously he was management material; he said he did not use computers outside office. Anyways, I had a good laugh when he said that coding skills would become of a thing of the past within a decade, everything would be done by automated tasks and tools, because he saw a trend in tool usage.

Well, we are now 10 years later, and I am still laughing. Some kind of uses can indeed be replaced by tools, but most applications are still made by man. I am currently using the java programming language a lot, and sometimes even that is too high up.

Anybody who says coding is easy is either doing a bad job at it, or does not program at all, like a fore mentioned said professor.

The final victory in a decades-long war (4, Insightful)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 10 years ago | (#7655984)

Low-skill jobs like coding are moving offshore and what's left in their place are more advanced project management jobs.

Management people have always sought to devalue programmers. It makes them uncomfortable to think that some of their subordinates can do things that they can't. The current situation is no doubt making those people very happy indeed. Because now a programmer is, it seems, just a low-value job - like telesales - that can be cheaply and easily farmed out to some third-world sweatshop. The manager is once again demonstrably superior to all his subordinates.

Qualifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7655986)

This professor is not really qualified to speak on what level coding is done.
In his mind a PHD doing cutting edge AI work is a low level coder.

In his mind only managers with MBA's are high level.
This professor has no real technical qualifications, and most likely has to call Tech Support after his system locks up.

In Short he is a good example of the problems in Tech Sector management issues.
Or to be blunt about it, he is part of the problem, and not the solution.

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