[SIGCIS-Members] some labor statistics questions about programmers

Bjorn Westergard bjornw at gmail.com
Tue Nov 11 20:13:30 PST 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statics can get you a ways toward answering questions 1
(if "startup" is taken to mean "small firm") and 5.

On Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 7:10 PM, Luke Fernandez <luke.fernandez at gmail.com>

> Folks,
> I realize the below questions might be more germane to "contemporary
> history of computing" than SIGSIS' focus on "history of computing"  but
> nonetheless perhaps some of you could point me to the resources that could
> help me answer the below questions:
> 1) What percentage of American programmers are involved in start-ups
> versus working long term at an established firm?
> 2) What is the age distribution of programmers?
> 3) What are the political and/or partisan affiliation of programmers?
> 4) What percentage of programmers are introverts and extroverts?  (A
> cursory review suggests some seeming contradictions:
> http://www.eng.uwo.ca/people/lcapretz/mbti-IJHCS-v2.pdf  versus
> http://www.infoq.com/news/2013/02/Introverted-Intuitive-Logical )
> 5) What (small) percentage of American programmers work in Silicon Valley?
> Cheers,
> Luke Fernandez
> Weber State University
> Manager of Program and Technology Development
> PS: By way of background context I'm trying to get answers to these
> questions to substantiate some assertions about programmers that my editor
> is questioning in a review I'm writing on Alice Marwick's book __Status
> Update__.  You can read a draft of that review here:
> http://itintheuniversity.blogspot.com/2014/03/studying-up-review-of-alice-marwicks.html
>  The paragraphs in question are the following:
> Second, Status Update portrays a world where everyone is on the make,
> where everyone has become outer directed, where the authentic self is
> eclipsed by the edited self, and where everyone has become so consumed by
> self-presentation that nothing is left but an edited self.  This hyper
> edited self actually seems to be the subject that Marwick currently
> inhabits.  She’s @alicetiara instead of @alicemarwick.   She is circumspect
> in replying to tweets.  Her “mentor,” “champion,” and “collaborator” (as
> she states in the acknowledgements) is Danah Boyd who actually goes by the
> overtly edited moniker danah boyd.  Marwick “agonizes” over what to wear.
> To be fair to Marwick it’s possible that we’re actually all pretty outer
> directed and that we all seek acclaim from others.  In the Discourse on
> Inequality  Roussau postulates  that this is simply a facet of becoming
> civilized.  So even if we don’t subscribe to neoliberalism, maybe Status
> Update is a mirror that reflects all of us.  And maybe Marwick is just
> being a little more honest then the rest of us about the fact that she’s
> outer directed. Still, it’s unlikely that we are outer-directed to the same
> degree.  That seems pretty clear when I associate with my plainly dressed
> programming colleagues, a good portion of whom occupy the top introverted
> quadrants of the Myers Briggs test.  It’s not like we don’t occasionally
> like to bask in the limelight.  But programmers wouldn’t be programmers if
> they didn’t derive some of their most enjoyable experiences from talking to
> machines rather than performing in front of others.  Pace Will.i.AM we
> don’t generally like to have “all eyes on us.”
> Third, part of the purpose of studying up is to examine how the colonizers
> have subjected (or reshaped) the colonized.  Marwick does a pretty good job
> of showing how that has taken place in the Bay Area.  But it’s an open
> question as to how much the ideology of the Valley has colonized the rest
> of us.  I’m a programmer and I’ve programmed in Utah (sometime referred to
> as “Silicon Slopes”) for the last thirteen years.  Before that I programmed
> in Kentucky.   So I’ve met my share of people who live close to the Web and
> use the term “Web 2.0” in our daily working lives.  Many of us are still
> earnestly laboring to embed Web 2.0 principles in software.  But most of us
> aren’t involved in start-ups, or living anywhere near “the scene” (as
> Marwick describes the Valley), or subscribing in any conscious way to the
> tenets of neoliberalism.   In particular, when Marwick suggests that
> neoliberal ideology is part and parcel of whatever people have adopted when
> they subscribe to Web 2.0 principles and Web 2.0 technologies she is making
> an association that probably doesn’t have that much traction outside her
> field site.  The people who use the term most these days are programmers
> and designers who refer to it when they are trying to describe a rich user
> interface that is snappy and responsive.  It has a discrete meaning and its
> principles are subscribed to by programmers and designers of many different
> political stripes.  Some of them may be neoliberals but others of them are
> distinctly not.  Status Update however glosses over this more common usage
> and piles onto the term a set of politics that are not in keeping with the
> way the term is most commonly employed.  This isn’t to say that Marwick has
> invented her definition out of whole cloth.  She gets it from the way Tim
> O’Reilly and other hoi poloi of the Valley have tried to spin the term.
> But the dissonance between her definition and the way it is used elsewhere
> illustrates the fact that her study cannot be easily scaled.   Put another
> way, Status Update may be a faithful portrait of life in the Valley.  But
> we should be careful not to let that portrait eclipse how technology is
> being produced and used in the hinterlands where social media may be being
> repurposed for other ends.
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