Why Some Programmers Buck Convention

This is accurate and infuriating. Ultimately, I think it’s due to the fact that we’ve been a colonized culture (I’ve blogged about this, search for “Damaso Effect”) for about 20 years. As technologists (not mere business programmers, but highly-compensated and autonomous people who could solve hard technical problems) we’ve allowed ourselves to be conquered by the worst of the colonizing tribe: the mainstream business culture (“MBA culture”).

There are business people who aren’t short-sighted fuckheads. The problem is that we don’t answer to them. The best of us, the Principal Engineers at Silicon Valley megaliths, answer to the people who failed out of MBA Culture and were sent West to manage nerds. Google, for a while, was known as an Argentina for failed corporate executives — and that’s how it ended up with stack ranking. The really good business people are running hedge funds and cementing billion-dollar deals, and tech gets the leftovers. That’s how we ended up being managed by idiots.

We need to develop a strong professional identity, and we’ll face opposition. You mentioned the age discrimination as more of an artifact of wisdom discrimination, and I mostly agree… but, I think that there’s more to it. Age discrimination is about control at the expense of performance, but why would Silicon Valley’s leaders knowingly choose control? Union anxiety. Likewise, H1-B abuse isn’t really about lowering wages. Workers’ wages are pennies for these companies. It’s about control. People who are under the threat of deportation won’t even think about unionizing a software shop, and (secondarily) nor will American nationals under threat of intense foreign competition.

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