Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Eastern US Useless Moneychangers Culture" - you so die now, die die die die

Below is, too me, a scary description of what may happen in the US if the tax payer bailout goes forward. It is all a quote from MSNBC MCCAIN VS. OBAMA: BAILOUT POLITICS:

The New York Times’ David Brooks sees an ideological shift for the country coming, and it starts with the enactment of this plan: "The Paulson rescue plan is one chapter. But there will be others. Over the next few years, the U.S. will have to climb out from under mountainous piles of debt. Many predict a long, gray recession. The country will not turn to free-market supply-siders. Nor will it turn to left-wing populists. It will turn to the safe heads from the investment banks. For Republicans, people like Paulson. For Democrats, the guiding lights will be those establishment figures who advised Barack Obama last week — including Volcker, Robert Rubin and Warren Buffett."

Brooks continues, "If you wanted to devise a name for this approach, you might pick the phrase economist Arnold Kling has used: Progressive Corporatism. We’re not entering a phase in which government stands back and lets the chips fall. We’re not entering an era when the government pounds the powerful on behalf of the people. We’re entering an era of the educated establishment, in which government acts to create a stable — and often oligarchic — framework for capitalist endeavor.”

-MCCAIN VS. OBAMA: BAILOUT POLITICS with Brooks comments at bottom

David Brooks is brilliant, hip and honest. The only brilliant, hip and honest voice from the conservative side of American politics, in my opinion. So my vehemence is not aimed at him, but at those who would carry out the assessment Brooks has prophesized.

With more sadness than vehemence I read on the Barack Obama official campaign website that Obama is supporting the bailout, with conditionals that are a little more disciplined than the initial White House offering. I may not be voting for Obama now.

I think the red-blue state cultural divide may take a back seat to another cultural divide that is as yet unnamed. I cite this article to give some of its tectonic shape: CNN: Fed's bailout plan met with skepticism out West. I will call the Pro-Bailout side the Eastern US Useless Moneychangers Culture. I brushed up against this class when I lived in Arkansas. There was a class of wealth who looked down on anyone 1) with a skill 2) that had to show up at a job. Even CEO's, bank presidents, and the state governor were of the lower class to these people. All these people knew how to do was invest, to hedge massive amounts of abstract wealth in ways that insured their continued aristocratic lifestyle. Doubly emphasize one aspect: this hedge investing class viewed any skill or technical knowledge class of humans as expendable slaves. Now that you have this Eastern US Useless Moneychangers Culture in mind, look at another cultural tectonic landmass that is forming in the form of I.T. intelligentsia: Door Number Three -Bob X. Cringely. I quote from the Cringley op-ed below to give a quick glance of this emerging cultural force, but emphasize my own schema first: the old redneck suburbanite or southerner versus urbane social justice redstate/bluestate may be slipping in relevance. The Giant Data Warehouses with Web Access Culture is on the West Coast ( Amazon and Google). This culture has a new kind of person in their workers and their more adept users/customers. I think this new kind of person has the potential to subvert and take over, and the first and most appropriate target for destruction should be the Eastern US Useless Moneychangers Culture

We're in an important transition period not just for IT, but also for business in general. Everything seems to be in flux. And that means the old ways of doing things are changing and ought to. And in this way IT is leading -- or ought to lead -- the way. Later this week I'll be making a dramatic shift and proposing the Cringely Energy/Economic Policy, but first I need to drive home the point that, however different it is from the rest of the company, IT is generally the vanguard for a new corporate culture and whole new ways of doing business for the world.

We're in a mess. The world is screwed up and some of that can be traced to the improper use of IT as a financial weapon. But the people of IT actually present many of the answers we need, because they are living much deeper in technology than other parts of the company or of our society.

Think about it. There has nearly always been a class of eggheads showing us a path toward new business models, whether it was Edison and Firestone, Hewlett and Packard, Noyce and Moore, Gates and Allen, or Brin and Page. It takes in each case a generation to happen, but ultimately we all (and I mean ALL -- everyone in the total organization) come to look like the geeks of the generation before. So let's lean into that, get on with the transition, and get past this place we're in right now where nobody wants to be. Let's consciously embrace the next model that's generally running fitfully right now inside every company, down in the more functional parts of the IT department.

What I mean by this is that times have changed and the world can no longer afford even John Reed's world view with its needs analysis, design, debug, test, rollout strategy -- whether we're talking about a new app or a new marketing campaign. By the time the app (or the campaign) is rolled out, the world changed from HTML to Javascript/SOAP/Ajax (or from financial regulation is bad to financial regulation will save us).

At the heart of this is a concept completely foreign to traditional business -- Open Source. What the open source community has demonstrated is the superiority of a strategy that emphasizes early proof of concept, early release, and frequent releases with features added as needed -- probably totaling 20 percent of the features identified in a needs assessment.

This is the new IT strategy we live with every day -- 80 percent solutions because they are fast, increasingly reliable, and keep the end users in the loop from almost the beginning. All made possible because of an open Internet (at least until Comcast succeeds and enslaves us), easily grasped standards and impressive demonstrations by companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and a ton of start-ups. Wall Street back offices figured this out long ago, they just never got their boss's bosses to understand.

Last week's column was a utopian vision that simply requires all the old managers to be reprogrammed or accept a bullet in the head. But it is not at all utopian if applied solely (or initially) to IT, where this stuff actually works pretty well.

IT people are most of the time building fortresses or feeling unappreciated -- often both at the same time. Yet to our discredit, we've done a very poor job of explaining or demonstrating or outright selling our utility to the broader organization. Where are our Geek Appreciation Days? Take a Geek to Lunch? Bring Your Geek to School? Taciturn, we disparage our co-workers for not appreciating us while giving them little obvious reason why they should appreciate us.

That has to change.

Door Number Three isn't just an escape hatch for nerds, it is the way business and culture and civic life will be for most of us a generation further into this information age. We're just leading the way. And if we're leading the way let's embrace that role and become leaders.

If, like me, you are likely to be fired, anyway, there's no real downside to this strategy. Let's give it a try.

Door Number Three -Bob X. Cringely

Giant Data Warehouses with Web Access Culture.....march forward and don't fire till you see the whites of their eyes!

I should add that those strongly invested in the redneck Protestant suburbanite or urbane Catholic social justice cultures are like the peasants and indigenous peoples during WW2 -spectators, soldiers or victims in a battle they do not guide. This won't be about valuing all humans equally and giving them equal access to food and housing, and it won't be about giving white rednecks a default safe haven. Both those agendas will only live on in the minds of the old or irrelevant.

Eastern US Useless Moneychangers Culture in the news with their views:

1 comment:

The Serpent Lord said...

Somehow reminds me of Jericho.

Other ways to frame the two cultures is Open vs. Closed or "Knowledge is Power" vs. "Ignorance is Strength." But simple slogans can distract us from the critical differences between a culture of information power keeping the United States an economic and technological leader and a culture of disinformation power turning the United States an energy-based oligarchy.