Monday, June 05, 2006

A Technically Cultural Question

HydroplaningCulture asks:

So vaguely on this topic, Insolublog, how do you fare during the day in your work? Does your workplace rigidly follow the Dilbert script? What keeps you going?

Recently I feel like Norman Rockwell's America has died and I'm a necrophiliac.

I wish there was someplace I could move or work in order to have like-minded technical people around me.


I am glad you framed your question around the Dilbert type workplace. I worked at a place that practiced every one of those Dilbert type bureaucratic hang-ups, for ten years. You had to fight a childish cadre of sycophant power brokers, climbing the corporate ladder on their knees, just to get any real work done. However, there was a dynamic war-like excitement to this feudal system. We would play the crisis game like pros, finding and creating short-circuit paths, which would allow us to pull in resources and run our own renegade technical experiments. Without the bracket of a crisis, nothing could be accomplished. None of the managers at the top had long term vision. It was easy to convince nearby management to game the system, for selfish benefit. The worst part of this dysfunctional situation was the fact that you could never reach a level of achievement, which would give you life satisfaction. I left because of this. When you are unable to create and put achievements on a resume, the war games are boring.

Then I moved to my current job, which is an open teamwork environment, where everyone feels like an empowered, responsible player in the game of business. You can patent your work and put your name on it. At the top level, the bureaucracy is sedentary and losing its comparative efficiency, moving along with engineered determination. It is the comfortable conservative empire, interested in specific technical innovation, but surprisingly uninterested in modern computer enhanced business management. This is a system of good upper management communication. However, it is petrified of risk and change. It resists that change, even when that change is beneficial and competitors are implementing it. Communication amongst the lower echelons is nearly non-existent, except at a localized level. People are re-inventing the wheel everywhere, because there is no motivation for them to get together and initiate large-scale progress, together. Even though this seems inefficient, this internal competition can be beneficial. It is like planting five seedlings and picking the strongest young plant. Unfortunately, no one is tending the garden, with aggressive leadership. All the plants are crowding each other out. Rather than fighting a war, you apply deliberate pressure, hoping the force will be enough to move the great mass.

I think both workplaces suffer from weakness in leadership. I was able to convince some of my old friends to move to my current workplace. We are applying some of the grassroots aggression, we learned from the environment of company 'A'. It is proving to be remarkably effective. Whether you are dealing with the political chaos of my previous company, or the intransigent mass of corporate inertia, one thing is certain.

Innovators will always find a way to innovate.

They will find a way to do it, or they will venture outside and take the risk of creating it themselves. That is the American spirit you long for, in your lament for Norman Rockwell's America, alive and well within the corporate culture. Engineers love to have fun, and spend the company's money doing it. Good companies, with innovative leadership, often find that delicate point where they can safely herd the cats, without sending them off to hunt for mice elsewhere. That is what keeps me going.

I will admit that the social culture, that inspired Rockwell's paintings, has suffered terribly, in ways I do not need to enumerate. It has been somewhat depressing lately. This general cultural decay is due to the type of 'progress' touted by progressives. It was created by reckless social experimentation, without genuine serious thought about consequences or corrective action. Now, having failed, the purveyors stand in the way of that corrective action, hoping to forestall it. Their social revolution has become both a large mass of bureaucratic inertia in government and the chaotic corruption of popular culture and media. Those things have reinforced each other for far too long. The unchecked, self-indulgent, irresponsible and unaccountable behavior, which we see daily, does alarm me. Perhaps it is a common behavior, now amplified by consumer connectivity. That could be a whole topic of discussion, on its own.

But you know what? Even with all this depressing news, the American innovators, in love with their freedom, thier families and their property, are still there, working n offices or the military. They are probably at a workplace near you.

Can we bring America back to Rockwell?

I think nations are as mortal as the people that inhabit them. They live. They die. They prosper. They cry. As with our own life lessons, nations learn through the suffering. This is an opportunity for the rebirth of a new Norman Rockwell style American family, through the relentless application of solid moral principles. I believe that institutions like the MSM, the public education system and the universities are losing their power to mold people's minds. Keep in mind, they have to be able to completely crush or suppress dissent, to succeed. Their current hysterical behavior, from illegal immigration to global warming, might impress the press and the politicians. To me, it is a sign that those dinosaurs are marching quickly to the tar pit.

Cultural devastation comes from grass roots implementation and advocacy; so does cultural healing. This is the greatest time to advocate for keeping up the good fight. Newspapers are bleeding off their margins through a credibility chasm. We are witnessing a revolution in internet education, now entering toddler status from its infancy. I would not expect to see any political leadership, leading anyone around. Politicians are modern sheep in America, driven by their poll shepherds. Many are old, clueless, resorting to pathetic, transparent tricks. They are about to receive a quick and dirty education. Americans will keep America on top, in spite of any wavering sickness we see on the cultural horizon.


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9 comments:

HydroplaningCulture said...

We would play the crisis game like pros, finding and creating short-circuit paths, which would allow us to pull in resources and run our own renegade technical experiments.

I'm 40 now, and I don't want to wade through stuff like that anymore. I would hope that critical masses of people who really know what they are doing have accreted somewhere, and there is no debating of questions whose answers have been discovered long ago.

But I know that accretions like this are called "startups" and I would have to move to California or Massachusetts but I really couldn't move into the world pictured in www.zombietime.com.

Paul Graham claims that startups can only happen where weird people live:
http://www.paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html

Insolublog, are you at liberty to say if your co-workers are weird? I know there are workplaces where EVERYBODY is moonbat. Are there techie workplaces where the opposite is true?

The Conservative UAW Guy said...

Moonbats aren't just in tech joints....

Insolublog said...

I'm 40 now, and I don't want to wade through stuff like that anymore.

I am 41 now, and I don't wade through it anymore. When I was twenty to thirty, it was fun. That was over ten years ago.

I would hope that critical masses of people who really know what they are doing have accreted somewhere, and there is no debating of questions whose answers have been discovered long ago.

If you are asking me to recommend a place to root yourself with people of like minded experience, I may not be able to answer to your satisfaction. I am a stationary soul. I have lived near Boston all of my life. I have observed many changes, over the years, at home, personally and abroad through friends and studies. I must say I have numerous intelligent, fervent conservative friends, here in Moonbat Massachusetts. I have also had my own share of face to face confrontation with the radical left, including members of my family.

But I know that accretions like this are called "startups" and I would have to move to California or Massachusetts but I really couldn't move into the world pictured in www.zombietime.com.

Dear God. Mass is not quite that bad. Most of the institutional patients work in the government, the universities and live in Cambridge. I wish they were relegated to street amusements, instead of passing legislation, but what can I do? As Zell Miller says, at the end of the day, it is still my home. The company I work for is not a startup, but there is plenty of room for creativity.

Insolublog, are you at liberty to say if your co-workers are weird?

Not only will I take that liberty, but I would apply the moniker to myself. Weird people often break through channels of trained thought, which of course, leads to innovation.

I know there are workplaces where EVERYBODY is moonbat. Are there techie workplaces where the opposite is true?

Once again, my limited field of observation, must limit my answer. I have not worked at a techie job where EVERYBODY is a hard core conservative. However, I do have close friends from Salem NH, who work in a silicon design center, They like to talk about the single 'pet Moonbat' in their office. Maybe this is a satisfactory indication of techie places, with conservative faces. NH is still more of a red state than MA. My current place of employment has a full-spectrum variety. The guy in the cube south of me, is a Limbaugh fanatic. The guy north of me, has pictures comparing the President to chimps. The director is a conservative, much like myself.

I think there are many more conservatives around me now, than there were in my high school days. I was a Reagan supporter, then. That social situation was more hostile to conservatives, but the laws were less liberal. Now the opposite is true. I don't mind liberals, as long as they aren't running around with the sharp scissors of governance.

Insolublog said...

Jimmyb - (You were in mid-post limbo) That's true. I think Hydro is looking for technical fraternity, with conservative roots, unless I am mistaken.

HydroplaningCulture said...

That's true. I think Hydro is looking for technical fraternity, with conservative roots, unless I am mistaken.

You're correct as always. Thanks for taking the time to explore the issue.

HydroplaningCulture said...

Hey, by any chance do you do any Python? I'm going to Pycon 2007 this coming week.

Insolublog said...

Sorry I didn't catch your post in time, Hydro. I DO program Python for some of my database work. However, It is unlikely that I would attend a show, unless it was in Boston.

HydroplaningCulture said...

I understand. I'd like to point out that these comments may be a valid extension of the topic of this post, because it's hard to hang around lots of Python programmers without getting some of the "Google" politics too.

One of the keynote speakers at the convention was Adele Goldberg, who complained that some teachers objected to the 2007 Newbery Award winning childrens book which contained passages where a 10 year old girl ruminates about the possible meanings of the word "scrotum".

This book is aimed at children of that same age. Adele saw nothing wrong with discussing the meaning of the word "scrotum" with kids that age in school. Amazon has an excerpt from the book which reads, "Deep inside she thought she would be interested in seeing an actual scrotum."

And yet, none of the many members of the public thought to casually and guiltlessly drop the word "scrotum" during any of the numerous Q&A sessions. They stuck to topics like bytecode, data types, web frameworks, etc.

I wonder why they were such prudes? Why didn't they march up to the microphone and proudly announce that they too would be interested in seeing an actual scrotum?

Could it be that "scrotum" had no place at Pycon?

Insolublog said...

One of the keynote speakers at the convention was Adele Goldberg, who complained...

This is typical of selfish, progressive narcissism. It is about her and her right to free speech. It is not about the right of those assembling for other purposes. It is not about their right to shield children from the Aedele's of this world, until they have some grasp of critical thinking.