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Is Software Eating the World?

By David McKelvey


It’s interesting that given my recent experience with generating the code to drive the digital displays, that two articles on the merits of software have graced two very different venues, the Wall Street Journal and Hacker News.

The first was by Marc Andreessen (of Netscape fame and fortune) as a guest for the WSJ on August 20th, and he expounded the incredible value that software can provide (and why now).

A response to Marc’s article appeared on HN (which by the way, takes hacker as a term in a very positive sense) by throwaway37 and doesn’t respond to the prevalence of software or the programmers who make it, but the question as to why there is a lack of programmers as leaders in government and industry, as well as the comparatively low pay to the value provided.

Take them for what they’re worth. While I feel Marc’s diatribe was a bit over the top, he did have significant points and makes me half believe my own “I wonder if…” future students will all learn forms of code, like current ones might learn word processing? (Or will it all be abstracted by then?)

My thoughts on throwaway37’s post are that many of the better programmers really enjoy their work and have seen too many others climb the office ladder and be disappointed that managing people is less rational work. And, I’ll agree that on the whole, coders are not good at asking for additional pay.

In any case, I think we’re entering a very interesting time. I mean, when you can hack together a three campus digital display system à lá Make Magazine with a CMS and a slim server in Dallas, what won’t we be doing next year?


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