I am a veteran computer consultant1. My time is sold in
time ranging from 15 minutes to several consecutive months of burn rate coding. I am well compensated for this effort. I'm even the last to
go when staff reductions take place, because in many cases I'm the only one who
knows how to keep the website running. So far the offshore
coders in Bollywood haven't found a way to steal my clients.
Despite all of this, almost everything I do for my clients today will be so
routine and mechanical that I am essentially filling the role of a bot most of the time. In
fact, there's probably a case to be made that I AM a bot in some senses.
Perhaps the Turing Test had it backwards, and the critical tipping point for
human - computer convergence isn't when they can fool us, but when we can
finally fool them.
For all intents and purposes, I'm symbiotically connected to this machine via a funky
mechanical interface: the keyboard and mouse. It's slow but effective, and
I'm pretty adept with it. That vast collection of kludges and patches named
Windows is my constant companion, and together, we can accomplish an impressive
amount of work in a day. I actually am just one component in the system,
critical to it's operation, but not intrinsically more important than the
others. Unless every component is working, right down to the last letter on
this battered keyboard in front of me, nothing much happens.
For all intents and purposes, I get up in the morning, jack into the
cyberspew and just push digital dirt around for a few hours every day. In
most cases, the rest of the machine is waiting on me cause it's way faster than I
am. At the moment, I've got 300 MB or so of database backup coming in
prior to archiving on a CDROM, so there's a gap to chat.
It reminds me of doing a big copying job on a good Xerox machine. You
fuss and tune the job so that you and the machine are in constant Zen
pushing the whole thing faster and faster until one of you screws up, or hits
asymptote. Like a mad monkey masturbating.
Here's the odd thing; in my role as a component of the Borg, I'm sort of a poster boy
Knowledge Worker. My productivity is somewhere near 100% when I'm working (not
when I'm noding tho ;-). I consume almost no resources in doing my job
beyond a healthy dose of electrons to power all the computers and the
Together, the Borg and I provide a significant
financial database resource for use by hundreds of thousands of users spread
around the globe. We're selling pure information. We
don't create any tangible goods, that consume resources and spew pollution of some sort
In the words of the farsighted Nicholas Negroponte,
"Sell bytes not atoms."
Even now, in the dark days following the Dot Bomb meltdown
, we are
Reporting live from the belly of the Borg,
1 I enjoy reading daylogs but I
totally understand what's supposed to go in them yet, so here's
an a priori mea culpa if this is misplaced...
2 "The dude from the machine"
Corrections welcome, I'm not a native Latin speaker...