Sunday, August 15, 2004


The following entry from Kaylon Daniels begins a series of entries from my summer software engineering class. It seems that every semester, outsourcing becomes a larger issue with the graduating generation of computer scientists. Kaylon's entry discusses the effect it is having in this country and speculates on the long term effects. A later entry in this series will discuss some other aspects of outsourcing and its effect on quality. I would appreciate any comments on this post or your views on outsourcing, its effect and potential opportunites outsourcing may provide.

Here's Kaylon's Logbook entry.

Most of my log book entries have been relatively short. But this one will be one of my longer posts. I just wanted to write some of my thoughts and discoveries about outsourcing. This is an important topic to me because I am unemployed at the moment and have been wondering how much of the credit I can assign my employment status to this phenomenon. I’ve read some articles in Business 2.0 and Business Weekly and I’m unsure which opinion to believe. Biz 2.0 states that outsourcing is going to have long term positive impacts on the U.S. economy. The middle class in other countries can afford to purchase our goods; this will produce more jobs in the U.S. They also feel that it frees Americans to pursue more advanced technologies while low level maintenance work is passed on to the third world. Now, Business Weekly states that outsourcing has nothing to do with the low level of tech jobs available. They state that the U.S. worker has been undone by his/her own productivity. Because the American worker can do more with less, there is less of a need for skilled workers. Maybe they are both correct to some extent, but I am sure of one fact. The last job fair I attended, I waited in a line that went around an entire city block. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This country is beginning to resemble Brazil more every month. Outsourcing is just another blow to the middle class which is already starting to disappear. Personally, I haven’t seen another tech industry pop up to replace dot-com businesses. There has been talk about nanotech and commercial space goods, but how can we capitalize on these markets when very few Americans are actually studying sciences. Most students in these fields are from nations we are currently outsourcing to. These emerging countries should be able to produce enough capital (thanks to a growing middle class) to research these new tech fields; why would one assume that the U.S. will have any real influence on the next generation of technology. It seems to be a catch-22 situation.

End of logbook entry. Before I end this post, a brief interlude on the phrase Catch-22, which defines a can't win situation. Catch-22 was written by Joseph Heller and Alan Arkin starred in the movie in 1970. It concerned World War II bomber pilots. Orr was pilot who was trying to get grounded by reason of insanity. The defining moment in the book is captured in this quote:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

If you would like to discover more about Catch-22, check out this site, where I refamilliarized myself with the book. It is a great book that was very popular in courses when I was in college in the late 60's, early 70's.


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