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#1 LowWaterMark  Icon User is offline

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Programmers' Future: Cloud Computing, Unionization

Posted 14 August 2008 - 11:58 PM

If software evolves in a cloud computing or a utility environment, what do programmers here think about their professional future?

Do you consider the possibility of representation by labor unions? How can you control your product, or how can your company control its software line? Would cloud computing free you up or lock you down?
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#2 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmers' Future: Cloud Computing, Unionization

Posted 15 August 2008 - 01:09 AM

Cloud computing really wouldn't change my actual work much at all... being that everything I do is online and everything I design is going online.

Though I do have to say, after using a few "cloud-based" applications, it's more aggravation than usefulness, for the simple fact that everything has to move through internet connections. If one server is down, my project has to be delayed. If one site is running on a slow connection, it puts a kink in my work pattern. Not that life is all about me, but when I am working, I like things to be clean, simple and efficient. It just seems to me that doing all your work through web-based software is cutting down on all three.

Unionization is not what it once was. It used to be a way for the working man (or woman :P) to ensure they weren't steamrolled by money-grubbing companies. These days, it seems more often than not, the unions are in someone else's pocket and could care less about the employees they represent. I most recently took notice of this through a friend of mine who works for the State of PA. He pays his dues, goes to his meetings and effectively gets shit on by the union at every turn. Why? Because his department doesn't provide their "major" funding.

As far as my particular line of work.... the more crap people want to add to the internet, the more secure my job becomes. Every website, every CMS, every blog, every database.... puts me that much closer to a pay raise :D (or a nervous breakdown... only time will tell).
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#3 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmers' Future: Cloud Computing, Unionization

Posted 15 August 2008 - 07:53 AM

Unions are past their time. Collective bargaining was needed back at the turn of the 20th century, but nowadays it is unnecessary. they are nothing more then mafia-esque groups looking out for themselves, not their members. Communist organizations!

I sincerely doubt programmers will ever form a union--it will be the dumbest move anyone could ever make.
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#4 LowWaterMark  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmers' Future: Cloud Computing, Unionization

Posted 16 August 2008 - 12:14 AM

Actually, I agree with you. Personally, I hate unions because in most situations, I think it dis-empowers the people who have earned and deserve it. I agree that it has in many situations outlived its usefulness. I also am sure beyond any doubt that without unions a hundred years ago, we would have suffered a growing class division that would have likely ended in class warfare and revolution. I think unions unwittingly kept the peace.

But, back to the folks who create software. I see an imminent and tangible change looming for the industry. If history (as I and many have always thought) remembers personal computers fondly as a sort of footnote to the advent of the Internet, if people pay their monthly computer bill for GHz-hours used along with their electric in KW-hrs and their oil, things will be very different for programmers.

If you are curious if major industries are serious about this, see this July 29 press release on Business Wire. This January release, also from Business Wire, examines the clandestine 30 acre complex known as "Design, LLC" in The Dalles, Oregon. The parabole is stupid but the research is real. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Intel, Yahoo: all are confirmed to have large investments in this research. It is important to y'all. It's not exactly brand new - anyone old enough to remember "Grid Computing" back in the mid-'90s? Is anyone ancient enough to remember "distributed computing"?

If the access to computers becomes a cloud model, it will be nationalized to some degree, just as power is today and very large companies will be the only ones capable of providing such service.

If programmers are subservient to one or two monolithic companies providing service to each region of the country (like electricity), how would programmers be paid? Would they get a piece of every incident-use of their software, like a lease? Who would decide what software is available on the cloud?

I worry about the future because I'm a good student of history. These questions warrant your debate.

This post has been edited by LowWaterMark: 16 August 2008 - 01:20 AM

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#5 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmers' Future: Cloud Computing, Unionization

Posted 16 August 2008 - 07:58 AM

I hope it never comes to that. A recent example (fiction of corse) was in the game Mass Effect. The government controlled the "internet" and companies/individuals paid exorbitant amount of money to gain priority access.

Moreover:

atoms->electricity->power->computing

Companies already charge for power, I don't see a future based on how much processing power we consume, especially when most home users waste a lot of idle cycles. I doubt people will give up their home computers to use a "collective" network so to speak.

In the unlikely case that this comes to fruition, I see programmers getting based like electric company employees are today. You get a wage or salary and do your work. You might get a cut of the programs used, but that will go to line the pockets of the monolith you are currently serving.
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#6 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmers' Future: Cloud Computing, Unionization

Posted 16 August 2008 - 11:53 AM

Well I work for a company stongly invested in "cloud" computing and my idea is that while many organizations may like the idea of controlling and I am sure it will see some interesting uses in comming years I don't think it will kill the PC market.

I also think that these organizations are not preparing for the user backlash that is going to happen when the Orwellian nature of the paradigm begins to touch users lives. Of course the idea is to desensitize people to the fact that there is no longer any tangible concept of "private" or "personal" in online digital media -- and indeed based upon the MySpace generation I suppose it is working. So perhaps there will be no backlash as people will just accept that their digital lives have no privacy.

OF course this does fall into one of the most popular profit models: "Reoccurring service fee" -- Cell Phones/computer printers/CD Players and Burners etc. And really even more so since the hardware resides behind in the cloud and they can get cheap parts and sub-contract etc. to keep their cost on that end down.

I myself and not worried about my job (hey I work right in the think of it) but I do wonder what the future holds...
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#7 LowWaterMark  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmers' Future: Cloud Computing, Unionization

Posted 17 August 2008 - 12:36 AM

NickDMax, regarding the PC market, why would I spend the money on a PC (my current one has over 4K invested in it - yea it's a hobby) when for $95. I could have a 1.5lb thin terminal (I doubt we'll be calling them "Dumb Terminals" any more)?

Intellectual history can me marked as a series of paradigmatic shifts and I think that this is a watershed moment. All of a sudden, my best stock advisers are clamoring over "Cloud Computing". That's a small bellwether moment from my perspective in that Wall Street has taken notice.

I liked your second paragraph about the backlash (or lack of one) to the 1984esque feel of a controlled, non-private Internet. But, truth be told, it takes a lot to push people to hang onto their freedoms. Constitutional rights have been progressively eroding for 20 years (in my opinion) without so much as a whimper, so I worry that any predicted backlash may turn out to be hyperbole. Speaking of hyperbole, read the 2nd hyperlink in my above post.

DYA, your point is well taken. Their are many ways to mark off ones and zeros. electrons, proton precessions, subatomic particle spin directions. BTW, your last paragraph is what puts the mortal fear into me.
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#8 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmers' Future: Cloud Computing, Unionization

Posted 17 August 2008 - 09:51 AM

One of the large mistakes the Mac (and a few other major computer companies) made (and continues to make) is to look at the computer as simply utilitarian. The computer market has since its inception been driven by the hobbyists. Many have hobbyists have gone on to become the moguls of the industry. When in the past organizations have tried to assert too much control, the industry marginalized them and left them in the dust. Control stymies innovation and lets face it -- computers are all about innovation.

Having the best model is no where near as important as having the most versatile model. The model that lets other play, the model that engenders growth by allowing third parties to contribute and build momentum. So goes the Darwinian nature of the computer market.

Does Cloud computing fit will into this competitive environment? This has far less to do with cost, lots of people have tried the, "I'll just make it cheaper the everyone else" approach and failed -- its much much more about what you can do.

So the problem I see with cloud computing is versatility. First you will have leap frogging. So first you invest 10million on your new hardware infrastructure and new software -- the users go wild and love it. But then I spend my 10 million and make something "cooler" and so I am stealing your users left and right.... so you need to upgrade and this goes back and forth -- with each iteration we both pick up weight (we have to maintain the older applications to keep our "happy" customers -- we can't just abandon them lest they go to the other guy).

All the while we are slowing our response time... its getting harder and harder to change. We become less and less versatile.

Now in the current PC market, if a user likes windows 3.1 thats fine, he can continue running it and I don't have ot care... but if users like version A and HATE version B (as much as users LOVE innovation they HATE change at the same time... ) they will punish us for change -- so we have to support older versions (for at least some time).

We also have to support compatibility not just with OUR data, but with the competitions (if we want users to switch) -- which may be difficult since the competition's sofware is completely on their hardware so we have to have some cooperation.

Anyway... long long story short is that I don't think that cloud computing is a feasibly versatile environment. I DO think that there will be many thin client applications that will be BIG -- but I don't think it is likely to make the PC a foot note in history any time soon.

AND -- there is games. Games will continue to require specialized hardware and looking at how Intel/ATI/nVIDIA are stacking the deck for the future the PC market is just going to be a more and more powerful platform and is already beginning to marginalize the game-console.

I think the best path for the industry is to continue to work together.

This post has been edited by NickDMax: 17 August 2008 - 09:58 AM

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