[SIGCIS-Members] some labor statistics questions about programmers

Bjorn Westergard bjornw at gmail.com
Tue Nov 11 20:14:36 PST 2014

One interesting factoid: software occupations are among the most
industry-dispersed, after management.


On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:13 PM, Bjorn Westergard <bjornw at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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>
> wrote:
>> 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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