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  Saturday, August 16, 2003

Guy points to Cringely's column equating offshoring to age discrimination.

I'd sure like to get a look at that grim-reaper spreadsheet he describes. Actually, I'd like to have any clue about how my employer's measure my work. If they're managing what they're measuring--meeting arbitrary deadlines, closing bug reports, filling out fictitious tracking spreadsheets--something's very very wrong, and very very scary. There's nary a clue that we're measured by customer satisfaction or user success, or even by any measure of quality--meeting the deadline equals quality in some departments. Until we know how we're being measured, how will we convince our bosses that they're measuring the wrong thing? How will we engage them in the conversations that will be needed to get the respect we claim to deserve? How will we convince them that our jobs can't be done offshore?

Speaking of offshoring, I'll be working up a page on the topic on the Silicon Valley STC site in the near future. It will include some links and documents (such as from the recent meeting with NWU on the topic). I'm even considering making it a blog or wiki, so others can contribute. Still mulling that one over, so if you have any thoughts, send them my way.

8:37:21 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

I had to take an abbreviated vacation this year because the immutable time-share reservation overlapped with an STC admin council meeting. Which is why I was online at Mulligan's three days in a row, checking email and reviewing the meeting agenda. So I didn't read my usual five books--barely got through three:

  • The Social Life of Information, by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. The premise is that information, in all its many forms, including electronic, only has meaning in context. I'm not sure, though, that they make the distinction between data and information as crystal clear as I'd like.
  • Fluke, or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings, by Christopher Moore. Hot on the heels of his bestselling and hilarious Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Moore presents yet another fantasy adventure, this one based on the question of why humpback whales sing. Just when I was thinking Moore would stay somewhat grounded in reality, off he goes, inventing a world beneath the sea. Loads of fun, though.
  • Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. One of last year's bestsellers. I'm learning to expect disappointment from bestsellers. OK, actually, I'm not quite finished with the book, but it's not at all clear how it's going to make me believe in God. An interesting and engaging story, but not enough to make me see the light. Curiously, the protagonist, Piscine Molitor Pantel, adopts three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Hindu, each of which relies on a godhead. Nothing mentioned about Buddhism, which inconveniently does not include a god. Oh, well.

I also tried to start reading two books on game theory: Finite and Infinite Games, by James P. Carse, and Moral Calculations, by Laszlo Mero. I found the second more readable, but it still takes the kind of concentration and mental gymnastics that I'm just not wired for. But I will get through one or more of the books on game theory--I really don't want to go around talking about "zero-sum games" without having the backstory.

I also took a look at the final Lord of the Rings book, Return of the King. I have serious doubts that I'll make it through that one before the movie comes out December 17. After slogging through the first to books, and seeing the flix, I've concluded that Tolkien was a horrid writer and mangler of English, and that the filmmakers have done a remarkable job of making the stories palatable. Really, the movies are much better than the books, IMHO.

And I still haven't finished Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt. It's just not calling to me, but I want to finish it, see how Robinson concludes the story.

Oh, and I listened to Matt Damon reading On the Road, Jack Kerouac's most famous opus, on the trip up to and back from Tahoe: 7 tapes, nearly 14 hours. It's been oh, maybe 30 years since I read it, and many other Kerouac works, in my wayward youth. Oh, no, I really wasn't that wayward, but I will give Jack some credit for introducing me to Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx in OTR) and Gary Snyder (Japhy Ryder in Dharma Bums), figures that had a greater influence on me than Kerouac himself.

6:36:54 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

From the "if a consultant says it, it must be false" department:

Remember that old "six degrees of separation" chestnut, the one that says you can find anyone, anywhere, withing six steps, from friend to friend to acquaintance, etc.? The one that morphed into "six degrees of Kevin Bacon"? As usual, it turns out to be a misinterpretation or uncritical expansion on one little experiment.  And of course the business consultants pick it up, recast it, and make it a golden truth that they'll share with you for $1200 a day. That's where I heard it first.

So it may never have been quite that easy, and it doesn't seem to hold true in the modern world: see this article from the New York Times, complete with a link to the latest study.

6:00:34 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." 

 Eleanor Roosevelt. [Quotes of the Day]

I have some friends who could stand to remember these words of wisdom. When someone makes a point of making you feel bad about yourself, whose problem is it, really? Even if they're your manager, they're not necessarily your superior.

5:42:23 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

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