Thursday, July 12, 2018

It's weird when someone pulls back the veil.

There is something I've been trying to figure out how to talk about for a few days. You have to be very careful in Silicon Valley. But it's such an odd dynamic I just have to in a very vague way.

A lot of the big tech companies have decided that their engineers are interchangeable. Meaning that no one really has any ownership over their work. Everyone is created equal, so everyone is tasked to work on any item that comes up under the sun.

The side effect of this is, since you don't have any ownership over your work - people only start to do the bare minimum because middle management is handing out problems like a card game. Over time this starts to compound on itself because people don't seem to have any in depth knowledge of how anything works anymore because you aren't incentivized to do so.

Mr S. and I have been talking about this for years now and chalked it up to incompetence. Until the other day. Mr S. was talking to a guy about a mutual acquaintance. The guy told Mr S. that the acquaintance had wound up at a super famous giant company, but they had a policy of making you not feel special, so he left.

Mr S. was like - wait this was an actual policy? The guy was like - yeah. He said - the mutual acquaintance was a brilliant xyz guy, but they had him doing the stupidest most menial stuff. And that it was an actual policy to take you off the things you were good at and put on you stuff that wasted your experience.

That's why you don't see these companies churning out star people anymore. Because they disincentivize that. They wouldn't want you becoming the next super giant famous company now would they?

It's just going to be interesting to see how this turns out because the choices you make today aren't always easy to fix years down the line. They are sort of contingency trapped. It is however one of the creepiest things I've heard in the Valley. And there have been tons of threads about how Silicon Valley is like the Soviet Union.


  1. Capital of Texas Refugee by ProxySaturday, July 14, 2018 3:15:00 AM

    Yes, but in Zelenograd (the Russian "Silicon Valley"), they actually have a football team ... oh, wait. :-)

    The "replaceable carbon-based engineering units" thing is a bad management pattern -- you'll notice how it doesn't apply to the managers who are in such "special classes" as "creatives" and "experts". Smart engineers figure out a way how to increase the number of "workplace accidents" that affect these people creatively and with considerable expertise while also not affecting the engineers themselves. :-)

    I could actually tie this into a nice little conceptual ball for you along with why it would be a Florida VR company that's getting a metric craptonne of funding ... but no, let's see if you work it out first.

    I'll let you in on a secret otherwise ...

    Auto-correct is turned off in my browser and in all of my word processors.

    Any mistakes I'm making are my own because auto-correct's been told to shove off completely.

    It's quite often wrong about English dialects, it's always wrong about technical terms that it doesn't "know", and it tries to change stuff that's correct simply because it's not in "the algorithm's" range of experience, something that's typically driven by the experiences of networked stupid people or people being stupid while networked.

    So actually auto-correct is making you Stupid By Proxy, and the best means at your disposal to end the Internet version of Munchausen By Proxy is to stop fooling about with proxies.

    Google's auto-correct is exaggerating your incompetence at spelling, just for starters ... so let's not feel sorry for Google at all.

  2. Yeah... I should just turn it off. For a while I was fascinated by it's algorithm because I had a sticky keyboard. It kinda goes crazy when your spacebar works randomly. Now I think I'm just annoyed by it. Obviously if it's working it's way into my dreams. I sort of hate it replaces words instead of just showing misspellings. I wind up looking at my posts later and thinking - I didn't even use that word!

    See I think it doesn't work for managers because those people are just problem jockeys. Often they have stopped doing any actual engineering stuff and just fill out spreadsheets all day and try to figure out how to waste your time with infinite meetings.. Those people are actually pretty replaceable.

    Most of this stuff had gotten way worse since everyone adopted agile. That's when the real cracks started to show, and we will just see how this turns out. Now a lot of companies just seem super bloated because the dynamic produces all sorts of unintended consequences.

  3. The Capital of Texas Refugee Who Refused to be "Q"Sunday, July 15, 2018 12:23:00 PM

    Let's do one of these Q-style for the LOLZ. :-)

    Why would it be a Florida VR company getting the billions?
    The product is already sold.
    You are not the consumer.
    The buyers have deeper pockets than you do.
    Even if the company fails, the buyers have already succeeded.
    Why would MegaBux Inc., a Bay Area holding company, hire experts and then waste their energy doing relatively useless things?
    It's not about who they hire, it's about who someone else can't hire.
    Why would a company work to create niche-specific labor shortages?
    Creative disemployment is creative destruction.
    Creative destruction builds echo chambers for development.
    Jane Jacobs wrote about force multipliers, but it took years for anyone to listen.
    Destroying force multipliers causes the labor supply to cluster.
    Clustering labor supply is great for big businesses.
    If you don't need networked force multiplier effects, you don't need cities, you don't need deep hierarchy.
    Why not make the employees mostly "flat earthers" as well?
    An atomized labor force is an ignorant labor force.
    Command and control is easier when everyone's too ignorant to do anything but take orders, but these companies are different.
    They have evolved along parallel lines, and they work together while competing with each other because they're using the same signals intelligence platforms.
    What ties these things together?
    Information has a shape and a form.
    Organizations that manage information have a shape and a form.
    What do these information organizations most closely resemble?
    In the valley of oligarchs, the one who can most effectively bring the violence reigns supreme.
    In lieu of that, there's money, lawyers, and contracts.
    Hayakawa handed out maps to help understand these territories, but did anyone listen?
    Instead the Bay Area built "Alphaville" and installed "Alpha 5" on your phone.
    General Semantics or General Dynamics?
    Same damned thing, fool!
    The Bay Area intellectual "triangle trade" has always had a hidden ruler.
    He runs nothing and everything, and he's so good at it nobody even knows his name.
    When you fear to tread in parking lots, know that he even has you under contract.
    The bloat is a security function.
    The dysfunction is a security function.
    The utter senselessness of the security functions is itself a security function.
    "I want this country to realize that we stand on the edge of oblivion ... I WANT EVERYONE TO REMEMBER WHY THEY NEED US!"

    (the Capital of Texas Refugee Who Refused to be "Q") :-)