[SIGCIS-Members] some labor statistics questions about programmers

Luke Fernandez luke.fernandez at gmail.com
Tue Nov 11 21:46:34 PST 2014

Interesting.  According to your cite academics and librarians work in
one of the least industry-dispersed fields. So one of the *least*
industry-dispersed occupations (academics who study programmers in a
historical context) is studying one of the *most* industry dispersed
occupations.   How should that make us feel? Blessed or cursed?


On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 9:14 PM, Bjorn Westergard <bjornw at gmail.com> wrote:
> One interesting factoid: software occupations are among the most
> industry-dispersed, after management.
> http://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-3/measuring-occupational-concentration-by-industry.htm
> 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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