Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Does "Nimbler" Mean "Better?"

One gets the impression that Jack Dorsey returned to the Chief Executive Officer position at Twitter because someone (probably the heavy-duty investors acting as a collective) felt that the company needed a good hatchet man. In this case the hatchet will lop off 336 jobs, constituting 8% of the workforce. Given that unemployment is still a major problem, that amounts to a mighty hatchet.

One sentence from Dorsey's statement about the layoffs stuck in my craw:
We feel strongly that Engineering will move much faster with a smaller and nimbler team, while remaining the biggest percentage of our workforce.
This is very much the newspeak of the world that the Internet has made. My guess that all of us are now encountering software coming from "a smaller and nimbler team." What we notice most is that it is more error-prone. It is the latest generation of the old Microsoft motto: "Get it out as soon as possible and fix it later." It is also the latest example of what happens when pleasing the shareholders is more important than pleasing the customers.

1 comment:

jones said...

The problem of software flaws gets little attention, and so manufacturers continue to be immune from product liability.

NIST studied the problem a decade ago in a specific sector of the industry, but computers have only become more widespread since then, and I'm not aware of another comparable study:



You'd think the problem would get more attention after the Aurora Zero-Day Attack exploited a hold in Internet Explorer to compromise the source code repositories for Adobe, Northrop Grumman, Dow Chemical, Morgan Stanley and others:


Unfortunately, the NSA seems to be working at odds with NIST, collecting vulnerabilities instead of working to secure them:


If the last 200 years of "progress" is any indication, there are no technical solutions to the problems caused by technology (i.e., climate change -- the straightforward policy solution is to make energy more expensive, but the growth imperative induced policy makers to seek market-based technological solutions).

What is needed is a change in culture, and less reliance on computers -- which, frankly, are part of the trends to increasing productivity by increasing automation that have been central to much of the job losses we've seen over the past few decades.

Growth is a problematic ideology, though most people take it to be something of a law of nature.

Dan Geer I think addressed this set of issues with sobering clarity:

Power exists to be used. Some wish for cyber safety, which they
will not get. Others wish for cyber order, which they will not
get. Some have the eye to discern cyber policies that are "the
least worst thing;" may they fill the vacuum of wishful thinking.

Geer offers by way of conclusion:

Those of us who are backing
out our remaining dependencies on digital goods and services are
being entirely rational and are likely to survive. The masses who
quickly depend on every new thing are effectively risk seeking, and
even if they do not themselves know it, the States which own them
know, which explains why every State now does to its own citizens
what once States only did to officials in competing regimes.


I will busy myself with reducing my
dependence on, and thus my risk exposure to, the digital world even
though that will be mistaken for curmudgeonly nostalgia