Re: Will my TV watching be horribly throttled?

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Is it up before Congress or the FCC or the Supreme Court again, then?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:01 PM
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D.C. Circuit rejected most of the latest iteration of the rule yesterday. I haven't had a chance to read the full decision yet, no sense of how likely it is whether the FCC will try to get Supreme Court review, or try to get the rule in place another way, or just give up. (I doubt they'll give up.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:14 PM
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My superficial understanding is that if the FCC would classify broadband as a telecommunications service (and not get overridden by the horrible DC Circuit), net neutrality would again be a thing. I think the FCC has not done that because of political pressure. No idea how likely it is that they will go back and make that change. It seems like the obvious thing to do, to uninformed me.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:18 PM
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Some snippet review I saw yesterday said that the DC Circuit ruling left the FCC some ground to rejigger the rule. I haven't read the opinion yet either.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:19 PM
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The opinion was Tatel joined by Rogers, with Silberman concurring/dissenting, so it wasn't a product of the complete asshole wing of the DC Circuit and isn't presumptively insane. I'm not going to read it today, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:21 PM
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3: They took comments about reclassification as part of this rulemaking but decided against it. Don't know much more than that but probably some combination of political pressure and concern that reclassification wouldn't hold up against a court challenge.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:21 PM
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Can one of you dumb this down so the ignorant among us know what's going on and what it means?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:41 PM
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Volokh ...yeccch, but a link at Cowan's as an answer "what is likely to happen" rather than what will happen. Lots of comments, here are two

A more likely scenario, one that's already being rolled out, is that the major ISPs will institute data caps on wired internet, like on your cell phone. (Create scarcity) Then they will charge internet companies a fee to give them access to their customers outside of that cap. So if Microsoft paid Verizon for priority access to Verizon customers, then Bing would be free to use and Yahoo/Google would consume data cap (cost money). Because Netflix competes with Verizon's cable TV business, it might decline to sell access to Netflix, in spite of all the Verizon customers that pay for that service. A startup internet company might have to pay Verizon for the privilege of having its service made available to Verizon's customers. In effect, Verizon "owns" the consumers on its network and can charge anyone a fee to communicate with them. And as there are no reasonable alternatives to wired broadband, the customers will either accept that or go back to reading books and re-positioning rabbit ears.

You might think this is crazy talk and that Verizon would never do anything like that. But you'd only have to look at the Verizon cell phone business to see that they do that right now.

12 minutes ago

I suspect Comcast and Netflix are going to enter into some legal fun if this isn't fixed. After all, it's certainly in Comcast's best interest to kill any streaming video but their own.



Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:48 PM
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8.1:should be "rather than what should happen"

I don't know but I have Roku and Amazon Prime and more and I sense or have read in various economics forums about a new model of "micro-pricing." Volume over margin and market-share and nudging and behavioral science are tools of neoliberalism.

Comcast may give you access to Netflix and charge a penny/dime per megabyte or per minute. Plus maybe a Comcast logo in the corner.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:55 PM
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7: As a practical matter, without net neutrality rules, there's nothing to stop broadband providers from throttling different types of (perfectly legal) content, or charging content providers a fee to avoid throttling. So a scenario like the one in 8 is conceivable (how likely, I have no good idea; probably it's ultimately a question of how much of the burden broadband providers can get away with shifting onto customers or on content providers).

As a legal matter, first point is that agencies like the FCC can only do what Congress has authorized them to do; but because statutory grants of regulatory power are generally at a high level, there's often disputes over whether a particular regulatory action is within the scope of Congress's grant.

Here, basically, the FCC keeps trying to implement net neutrality without classifying broadband as a telecommunications service (it currently classifies it as an information service). The FCC has a ton of power over telecommunications services (and also has the power to decide what qualifies as a telecommunications service), not so much power over information services. Twice now it's argued that other statutory provisions give it the power to implement net neutrality rules even without classifying broadband as a telecommunications service, and twice now the D.C. Circuit has said that the FCC has overstepped its authority (or conflicted with restrictions on its ability to regulate things other than telecommunications services) by relying only on those other provisions.

The FCC ought to still be able to go back and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service--and in theory all they have to do is articulate a decent reason to do so, which is a low threshold--but broadband providers will of course fight that tooth and nail because that would open the door to comparatively pervasive common carrier regulation far beyond net neutrality rules.

I don't know if that actually clears anything up. Probably not.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 4:14 PM
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10 -- the snippet I saw suggested that the opinion left room for imposing net neutrality without reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, so it was possibly a backhand win for the government. But I'm still not going to devote the 45 minutes-hour I know I'd need to try to sort through even the basics of a DC Circuit telecom opinion.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 4:26 PM
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It did have an immediate negative effect on Netflix stock this morning (recovered somewhat since).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 4:36 PM
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11: could well be, didn't mean to suggest reclassification was the only option, just that it was one pretty clearly legal option that's been on the table, as part of "dumbing down" Bave's and my comments above.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:02 PM
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Your summary was totally great and clear, didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I do most of my dumbing down unintentionally.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:03 PM
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Some summary I tead seemed to imply that Congress would have to pass something, but that might just be to make sure the FCC doesn't get overruled.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:13 PM
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tead, read, whatever


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:14 PM
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If they don't reapply neutrality someone will have to modify the blog so hitting reload all the time on long threads doesn't collectively cost us thousands of dollars.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:18 PM
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||Completely OT, but Jesus Christ is this economy fucked for people in their 20s. We posted an ad for a part-time nanny to pick my kid up from school for the 1/2 of the week we have custody and hang out with her for a few hours. So far we have responses from a recent UC Berkeley grad, a recent U Penn grad, and two recent USC grads, one of whom went to my uber-fancy private high school. None appear to be actress/artist types just looking for a little additional income. |>


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:29 PM
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North American internet traffic stats. It's not quite all about NetFlix, but it is a third of all web traffic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:30 PM
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18 Could have been a downer contribution to the Pretty Things thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:32 PM
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Good point. Basically if you don't whip your pretty teenagers into taking AP classes to become Petroleum Engineers, they might end up as my nanny even if they go to a good college.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:33 PM
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What about all the parts of the internet that have nothing to do with "content" that has a "provider"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:48 PM
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This piece from Politico is an example of the establishment 'it's not so bad' coverage that Halford is apparently referring to -- the FCC still has power to regulate, etc. But then see this piece from Marvin Ammori for the 'it's really really bad' take on the decision. The claim from Ammori is that while the FCC has some regulatory powers, this puts the ISPs in the drivers seat by giving them the clear power to discriminate between different types of content or providers.

I'm not a lawyer and haven't read the decision so I can't adjudicate. But I have to say, the fact that the kind of stuff under discussion here is even up for debate strikes me as really, really bad. If you're going to have any socialized infrastructure at all in the information economy, then net access is it. It's a ubiquitous and necessary technology essential to free speech and unbiased information flow, developed with government money, a clear public utility. Frankly I think fast and effective broadband ought to be public access infrastructure like highways, not that that will happen.

Is Potchkeh saying above that full common carrier designation is within the regulatory powers of the FCC?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:54 PM
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Or, the internet was developed with government money. I realize that the broadband wiring for delivery was done with private $$$.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:55 PM
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I have no idea what regulatory powers are available to the FCC but I wonder if it's possible to end up with ISP plans where gmail/yahoomail/whatever-the-hell-microsoft-is-calling-their-mail is still free and email is still an open standard but there's a third-party webmail surcharge in the internet plan that you have to pay to be able to send/receive from those services using the ISP's infrastructure. However, if you download the ISP's email client or use their special webmail site and use their email address then those emails are included in the basic plan.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:07 PM
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24 -- that's not what the Marvin Ammori piece says; he says that the ruling struck down the current regulations (which are a bad thing) but that the FCC still has power to act to preserve net neutrality (which is a good thing) but that there's some question as to whether or not it will do so. Or, exactly what Potchkeh said.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:09 PM
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26 to 23.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:09 PM
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are s/b is there, if that's not confusing enough.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:11 PM
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I realize that the broadband wiring for delivery was done with private $$$.

On public rights-of-ways, though, which is far more valuable a contribution than the wires themselves. Unless Verizon wants to start renting their telephone poles directly from landowners.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:30 PM
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26: OK -- I see, you're right. He provides a very clear gloss on what Potchkeh was saying as well, so now I get that better. But he is a little pessimistic about whether the FCC will do it though, and it's hard to see Congress stepping if they don't.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:40 PM
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22, 25: Per the charts linked in 19, right now all of the immediate energy is around video. And Netflix and YouTube combine for slightly over half of *all* traffic in NA. Even thing like Facebook are but a couple of %. So theoretically they could do things affecting things like e-mail but not front and center compared to sorting who gets to monetize differing portions of video traffic. But I guess one negative potential is the other traffic getting squeezed by preferntial prioritization of favored "content" providers, which might lead to tiers of service. And I guess that has been the trend in every other consumer service.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:41 PM
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Advocating bandwidth being treated as a shared public good wl probably earn you atrip to the gulag in a few years time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:43 PM
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Mid-90s was when the backbone was privatized in the US.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:51 PM
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32: we will probably have a soft totalitarianism where the punishment will be getting cut off from all electronic communications by my ISP and having my most embarassing internet searches tweeted out to the public.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:51 PM
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Further to 10/13, having now read the opinion (quickly), I may have missed something but I think it more or less boxes the FCC in to having to reclassify. There's a lot going on but the core of the decision is that the net neutrality rules in effect regulate broadband providers as common carriers (because they require them to basically take all "edge providers" as they come, on an equal basis), and there appears to be no dispute that the FCC is statutorily prohibited from imposing common carrier obligations on anything but telecommunications services. I suppose they could try to promulgate some kind of much weaker net neutrality rule but I can't imagine how anything worthwhile wouldn't be in common carrier territory under this decision's analysis.

23.last: yes, if the FCC classified broadband as a telecommunications service (which it almost certainy could; a while back it had DSL in that category IIRC), it could subject it to common carrier obligations.

22: I'm not sure what you're asking. It's content all the way down, isn't it?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:52 PM
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33: Funny, I could've sworn backbone privatization was a Reagan thing.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:58 PM
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Truth in labeling would show that most data plans allow you to use about 1 percent of your physical capacity (assuming physical capacity limits are hard, and not a soft switch -- like a 1g phone is identical to a 5g phone, other than having 4 dip switches thrown to slow data transfer, and is cheaper).



Posted by: Econolicious, constrained by a 5,000 mile per day driving limit | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:06 PM
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Completely OT, but Jesus Christ is this economy fucked for people in their 20s. We posted an ad for a part-time nanny to pick my kid up from school for the 1/2 of the week we have custody and hang out with her for a few hours. So far we have responses from a recent UC Berkeley grad, a recent U Penn grad, and two recent USC grads, one of whom went to my uber-fancy private high school. None appear to be actress/artist types just looking for a little additional income.

Well, if you'd retire from your job, someone else could have a job. Otherwise, no job.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:08 PM
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37 bothers me, because no individual user wants to use their data connection 24/7/365. The fact that latency of "I want this multi-megabyte blob" has gone way down is, in fact, a big deal.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:06 PM
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In Russia, multi-megabyte blob wants you! (But latency can be quite high still.)


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:18 PM
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I'm sorry I killed the blog.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:18 PM
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39 ignores the important use case of heavy, script-driven torrenting. Which is obviously what the market should be built around.

In unrelated news, the local non-Comcast cable modem option offers a 110mbps tier in our area and oh boy it is glorious. I really need to wire my house because I'm pretty sure what's limiting me right now is my wi-fi.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:27 PM
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Jesus Christ is this economy fucked for people in their 20s.

Word. Being out of work these days is an unbelievably discouraging experience. Not just for people in their twenties, either (hi, Smearcase!).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:28 PM
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35: 22: I'm not sure what you're asking. It's content all the way down, isn't it?

When I scp files back and forth between university computers and my home computers, say, or just ssh to a terminal somewhere to do some work, or even put something in a Dropbox to share with a collaborator, I'm not sure that "content provider" is a useful frame for understanding what's happening.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:13 PM
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Further to 43, all those parents of teenagers in the other thread dreamily looking forward to their kids moving out are in for one hell of a rude awakening if the economy doesn't improve a lot in the next few years.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:21 PM
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44: We do lots of Dropbox, but sometimes we need the greater bandwidth that comes from mailing a hard drive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:24 PM
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I should calculate if it actually has greater bandwidth for varying shipping options.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:26 PM
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Don't worry, essear. I'm sure your future ISP will not charge you extra for Dropbox usage as long as you've signed up for the cloud tier plan* and linked your Dropbox account to your ISP email and your collaborator is using the same service. It'll be seamles!

*Reduced rate for first 12 months.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:40 PM
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So what's the potential for lots of class action suits against ISPs if they're impeding the content that people paid for? Isn't that like conspiracy in restraint of trade or something? Or is that already covered in this ruling? Frankly, I'm more on Team Luddite with this sort of thing, so I haven't followed the debate too closely. Plus, of course, the worst possible thing always happens, so why get upset beforehand?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:48 PM
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Also, if someone was going to an abortion clinic for a legitimate reason in a stand-your-ground state, and some lunatic dressed as death and waving around blow-ups of dismembered fetuses started hassling them, couldn't the clinic-goer just shoot the lunatic? I certainly wouldn't be very sad if that happened over and over and over again.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:00 PM
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all those parents of teenagers in the other thread dreamily looking forward to their kids moving out are in for one hell of a rude awakening if the economy doesn't improve a lot in the next few years.

Yeah, there's a reason why I'm pushing both of of mine towards that physician assistant program at the U of Utah with all my might.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:24 PM
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Yeah, I wonder about that too. I used to think that ordering your kids not to major in English/Anthropology/Art History or whatever was the mark of unforgiveable philistinism, but seriously things are gonna look different if pursuing an interest means the kid stays in my house until age 30.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:44 PM
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The thing is, though, with this economy even the "practical" majors don't give you a very good chance of getting a job. If you're a young person right now you're basically just screwed.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:47 PM
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That's probably true. Seriously, why hasn't there been a revolution yet?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:49 PM
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Well, a lot of young people still have living parents who can afford to support them. This is still a very wealthy country, after all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:52 PM
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That said, there is definitely a lot of discontent and disillusionment out there. Much more than the political establishment realizes, which doesn't bode well for the long term.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:54 PM
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That's why I'm pushing the PA thing, especially since they both seem genuinely interested. Pretty hard to outsource something like that, median salary over 90K, unemployment rate of less than two percent. Nothing is for certain, but it's as solid an outlook as can be had.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:54 PM
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57 to 53


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:55 PM
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And this is, I think, the context that gives rise to things like Occupy Wall Street, which was always more of a primal scream than a coherent political movement with identifiable goals.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:56 PM
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57: If they're interested, sure, it seems like as good a bet as any.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:57 PM
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Really you should be pushing them to become petroleum engineers, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:57 PM
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a lot of young people still have living parents who can afford to support them

And this is another aspect to why I push that plan with them. We've got plenty of room and if they go to the U of U they get a free transit pass and could ride the light rail to campus as we've got a station a mile from our house. We've already had many a chat about how the world is a fallen shitty place and this is overwhelmingly their best bet to do something they enjoy and get an increasingly rare chance at stability without soul crushing debt and stress.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:03 AM
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Ha, my wife did some petroleum engineering stuff and an internship back when she was still doing her geology degree. Didn't like the prospect of so many of the jobs being in the boonies.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:04 AM
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Hey now, the boonies aren't necessarily so bad. Especially for that much money.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:06 AM
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A bigger concern is how cyclical that sort of job is. The price of oil falls and bam! That's it. Hope you saved enough to live on for a few years.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:07 AM
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There should be some kind of program in Tedious Bureaucracy studies where you spend a year or two learning all the office basics, plus how to read forms correctly, departmental accounting, 10-key skills, phone etiquette, and then you'd get an internship at a large institution or government department for a year, then come back to school for advanced instruction in a particular type of bureaucracy. I guess there are some things that are kinda similar, but why not just wipe away all of the lies and cant and admit that our society needs a lot of people to just be fairly efficient bureaucrats for 40 years or so, and there's not really much point in educating those people for anything else?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:13 AM
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Lots of vocational schools offer that sort of training. I suppose they mostly train people for whom that sort of job would be a step up rather than a step down socioeconomically, and that might need to change.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:19 AM
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66: Seriously, more things need to be run like the police/military. You can get in on the ground floor with just a diploma and you get all sorts of basic training and then there's opportunities available for anyone who shows aptitude.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:57 AM
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This is clearly my dumbest question ever, as people look at me like I'm a crazy person when I ask this. Still haven't gotten an explanation, though.

How come more people don't go into programming? I've known a number of people who have switched from other careers into programming without going back to school to get a degree. It's typically taken 6-12 months to learn enough to get a job. That's not easy for people who have a full-time job, and it's really not easy for people who can't afford a computer. But the educational resources you need are available online for free and there are now even services that will let you run code online, straight from a web browser, so all you really need is access to a library.

I keep expecting the programming bubble to pop; any day now, I expect to lose my job and not be able to find one at 1/2 my current compensation, or perhaps even 1/4th. But I've been expecting that for a decade and it hasn't happened.

For the time being, programming looks to me like a career that pays decently despite a low barrier to entry. It's not a particularly hard major to pick up in college and it's one of the few career paths you can hop in post-college without connections or vocational training.

I admit that I must be missing something because people aren't actually switching to programming in droves. But this question is so stupid that people just look at me like a moron when I ask; I still haven't heard a good explanation.


Posted by: Marie Antoinette | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:13 AM
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How come more people don't go into programming?

Because people think programming is hard and probably involves math.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:16 AM
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Does "particular type of bureaucracy" include "cops with Wednesday's off and thus can drink gin until 0200 because their suspect lineup the next day isn't until 1200?" That shit is specialized, trust me.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:18 AM
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That seems like a particular type of bureaucracy, yes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:21 AM
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Don't worry, I'm streaming Dexter while I drink so it's practically work related.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:39 AM
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49: If Comcast and Verizon got together and agreed to block Netflix, you might have restraint of trade, but either or both of them doing so independently shouldn't be a problem absent a rule like the one just struck down, I don't think. The court did leave standing a rule requiring providers to disclose what they're doing, so I wouldn't be surprised to see class actions premised on inadequate/misleading disclosures.

But even if there were good cases, essentially all broadband subscribers have agreed to arbitrate their disputes with their providers on an individual (i.e., non-class) basis, and those agreements are enforceable (unless you can somehow keep your case in certain lawless state courts; which you pretty much can't if your case is big enough to matter). So it'd probably have to be state AGs bringing the cases to do any good.

50: Hey, if stand-your-ground is good enough for shooting people who text in movie theaters...


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 3:33 AM
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There should be some kind of program in Tedious Bureaucracy studies

It exists and it's called "school"?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 4:17 AM
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The case against the OIO basically puts the position back where it was a few years ago.

The way to go is still growing a proverbial pair and reclassifying under Title II, reversing (some of) the damage done by Chairman Martin, but enter your criticism of procedural slankets after the tone...

One thing that has changed since then is the emergence of the big point-source video farms like Netflix. There's no actual benefit to setting a low DIFFSERV bit on someone's random blog because it just doesn't account for perceptible volumes of traffic. On the other hand, if you decide to throttle NetTubeHubPlayer, where's the benefit? The remaining 3% (ssh, sftp, port scans, ntp, unfogged comments) of the peak traffic goes faster?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 4:24 AM
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I do think the competitive position has improved, though. The US cableguys used to be a joke as ISPs, but as Tweety says, Comcast is a pretty impressive engineering organisation. They have a distinct lead in price/megabit and their suppliers have quite a few upgrades in the pipeline. It must have some effect in putting manners on Big Phone Cos A and V.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 4:28 AM
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75 is fantastic, but more seriously the community colleges around here at least seem to do a somewhat decent job of that between classes and internships, although many of the students have shaky enough literacy that maybe it's not sufficient.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 4:37 AM
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77: wait, I didn't say that at all. I have definitely-not-Comcast, because Comcast is the worst. And the not-Comcast I have beats Comcast's fastest home internet tier by more than double. I do have cable internet, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 5:31 AM
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70: And they're right. Programming is hard and does involve math.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 5:51 AM
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Depends on what you're programming and in what language.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:01 AM
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80 is right. Programming involves a lot of symbolic manipulation, and organizing complex things into little bits. Anyone can learn, but a lot of people lack the ability to learn it easily.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:09 AM
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Would programing pay enough for me to afford some land in the country while still leaving me with sufficient time off to build a cob house on the land?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:14 AM
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I assume this map will be critical in determining the imperial ambitions of Halfordissimo. (heavy metal bands per capita by country).
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Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:19 AM
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Most people can learn to program. Programming well is a different matter. I think the "anyone can do it" line has resulted in a lot of really crummy programmers working professionally, which is one reason why there is such an amazing quantity of crap software and failed IT projects out there.

But its a good gig, no doubt about that. Pay is decent, I don't wear a tie, and the non-programmers I work with think I know magic.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:43 AM
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Also, I'm planning on building a pizza oven out of cob.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:44 AM
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I'm not wearing a tie either. Nobody understands what I have to say, but that may not be content related.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:47 AM
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86: I'm not switching careers at my age for anything less than a cottage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:49 AM
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Would programing pay enough for me to afford some land in the country

Depends which country you had in mind.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:54 AM
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50: It's fun to think about, but in the end, I believe the anti-violence types are right that shooting people ought to be a last resort - for entirely practical reasons. In a situation of escalating violence, the advantages are mostly in the hands of the bad guys.

Stand your ground isn't just bad law, it's bad practice.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:56 AM
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Basically if you don't whip your pretty teenagers into taking AP classes to become Petroleum Engineers, they might end up as my nanny part of my elite all-female ninja bodyguard even if they go to a good college.

The stars are aligning for Halfordismo...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:58 AM
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69. code, don't think is already pretty common among both technical people and management. As machines get cheaper and faster, the problem gets worse because there is no incentive to take individual tasks seriously.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:01 AM
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I want non-Comcast. Every couple years I switch back and forth between Comcast and Verizon and they both suck. That's Verizon DSL, I'm in the goddamn city and they won't offer FIOS at my address even though someone who works in a suburb 40 miles away has it.
With Comcast there are times when our connection just drops completely, I have to unplug the cable modem for a minute then plug it back in to reset.
I have a fairly close relative who is a senior exec at Comcast and he gave me the exec help line number one time but I haven't bothered using it yet.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:26 AM
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Did I already tell the story of the guy who was applying, and got hired for, and then failed miserably at a job for a major department at the University here as the IT manager, whose only relevant experience was managing a small team of programmers for a year or two a decade ago, and who had spent the intervening time as a freelance web developer? Admittedly, the compensation was probably not enough to attract first-tier talent, and the hiring process at the U winds up disqualifying many of the best candidates through poorly-though-out nested sets of requirements, but still. Seems to me like the IT sector is even worse off than many other parts of the professional world when it comes to matching people to jobs and getting things done efficiently.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:34 AM
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I guess there are some things that are kinda similar, but why not just wipe away all of the lies and cant and admit that our society needs a lot of people to just be fairly efficient bureaucrats for 40 years or so, and there's not really much point in educating those people for anything else?

This is sort of a "dated notion of what bureaucracies look like - the really tedious stuff is automated. More often now IMX they're doing things like effectuating policy at a low level, writing, sorting out disputes, being subject matter people, or specific administrative disciplines like auditing, contracting or IT (getting the computers to do things right). To say nothing of all the contractors.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:43 AM
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That was supposed to link to this article.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:44 AM
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The British civil service stopped recruiting its lowest grade, Administrative Assistants, quite a few years ago. The next grade up, Admin. Officers, are pretty few and far between except in areas like benefits and pensions payments where there's a lot of routine work that can't really be computerised because Turing test.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:07 AM
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Under the Coalition, claimants must pass a Turing test in order to be eligible for unemployment or disability benefits. A recent investigation by the Guardian found several hundred people who had received letters stating that they would no longer receive unemployment benefits "because our records indicate that you are a computer".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:26 AM
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Re: 47

We were discussing it at work, admittedly for somewhat larger data volumes. A truck full of disk arrays definitely won out, by a huge margin.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:28 AM
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I know this has been discussed here before but what programming language would the programmers here recommend to learn?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:31 AM
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And being useful/in demand in a library environment would be a definite plus.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:33 AM
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Turing Test new rules: Is your work of sufficient importance that your government will single you out for forgiveness half a century later?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:36 AM
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I've been saying for a few years that my phone is smarter and more capable than I was as a junior lawyer 20 years ago. And Jesus is it cheaper.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:36 AM
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100: For just learning the basics of coding python is IMO best. For getting a job, if I had to pick just one it would be either c++ or c#, but I am not a professional programmer, so take it with a pinch of salt. Once you know how to code in one language picking up another is much easier, but I still find it enough of a pain in the ass that I avoid situations where I'm likely to have to learn yet another damn language.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:42 AM
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Turing Test new rules: Is your work of sufficient importance that your government will single you out for forgiveness half a century later?

As opposed to the von Braun test: is your work of sufficient importance that a victorious enemy would overlook any putative involvement in genocide you might have on your CV in order to allow you to continue doing it for them?

I've been saying for a few years that my phone is smarter and more capable than I was as a junior lawyer 20 years ago.

I'm sure this was an Onion story but I can't find it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:44 AM
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It's typically taken 6-12 months to learn enough to get a job

It's enough that someone somewhere will pay you to do something, but the vast majority of junior openings are for people with 3-5 years experience with a particular development stack and set of frameworks. If you have a very good academic engineering pedigree and internships you will probably land a good job without that, but that's not who you are talking about.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:48 AM
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The everyone should learn to code thing seems so self-defeating. I mean, it still pays well precisely because most people do not know how to code and are scared of it, but presumably if everyone can do it and everyone did know how to code coding would become a shitty McJob and not pay well, instead of just endlessly generating more money because of the magic of comptuters. There still may be plenty of time to get on the gravy train, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:50 AM
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I've been saying for a few years that my phone is smarter and more capable than I was as a junior lawyer 20 years ago.

Buck was just talking to someone at his old job -- they're having a hell of a time replacing him. Everyone's either a general-purpose journalist who doesn't understand the technology, or a techie who can't write. But of course the job he had for his first decade as a tech journalist is the sort of thing that no one could get paid for now; while he was doing some writing, a lot of what he was doing (late eighties into the nineties) was being a manual search engine for senior writers, finding and digesting all the relevant news in a world that didn't have Google yet. No one can possibly get that kind of training any more, but it's hard to figure out how someone can work at his current level without something similar.

I wonder about that for lawyers -- junior lawyers are incredibly useless, or at least I certainly was. But I don't understand where competent senior lawyers are going to come from if the apprenticeship structure, where you can get paid to learn how not to be useless, goes completely away.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:54 AM
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And being useful/in demand in a library environment would be a definite plus.

COBOL 74. I very much doubt that anything has been written in it for 15 years, but the volume of shit in that kind of environment which will need to be propped up forever will guarantee you a safe but soporific job until you decide that you'd rather be dead.

Does SQL count?

104 is the right answer.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:54 AM
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Re: 101

Python.

In my library, I think most dev work is in python, with bits of php on the web side, lots of javascript/jquery, and moderate amounts of java. Small amounts of perl, too.

I think other institutions make heavier use of java and also ruby than we do.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:58 AM
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I dunno. Maybe we have very good junior lawyers or I have a very bad IPhone, but they sure seem to do a lot of useful things that my phone can't do. I mean the 80s-90s big law model of huge junior classes to do document review makes no sense, but that was basically a gigantic scam anyway.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:59 AM
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104 is right -- Python is basically a language designed for teaching that happens to have a large base of real-world users. JavaScript is also super useful in my end of things, although it has a number of weirdnesses and is probably less useful as a teaching language (although probably more useful if what you want to do is make your effort visible as soon as possible). I'm not sure what people not doing webbish stuff mostly use now; C++ and Java both seem plausible to me.

I certainly sympathize with Marie's sense in 69 that the bottom is going to fall out at any minute, but I guess part of that's the sense of fear and dread among the peons that late capitalism is designed to instill. Still.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:03 AM
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93: That's Verizon DSL, I'm in the goddamn city and they won't offer FIOS at my address even though someone who works in a suburb 40 miles away has it.

As far as I understand they're in a standoff with your city and my city wherein they refuse to offer FIOS unless they can get some kind of a tax break from the city

I don't really love Verizon either; the company I signed up with is also presumptively stupid, since it's a cable company, but it didn't sign up for that ridiculous six strikes thing and, of course, has a 110mbps tier. (I think FIOS will get higher than that but you pay out the nose? Not sure.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:10 AM
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avaScript is also super useful in my end of things, although it has a countably infinite number of weirdnesses


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:10 AM
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I expect John Resig could prove by diagonalization argument that the number of weirdnesses is uncountable, Tweety.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:12 AM
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Thanks all.
And 109 made me laugh. I'll get on that right away and be sure to follow it up with FORTRAN.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:25 AM
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I still have to use Fortran on a regular basis.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:37 AM
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To be fair, I haven't done any real programming in Fortran for at least two years, but I do have to go in and make minor fixes to old codes to get them to compile or to fix bugs or whatnot.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:38 AM
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I know this has been discussed here before but what programming language would the programmers here recommend to learn?

The Scientific Python stack. It gets you into the in-demand specialty of data science while bypassing the web development ghetto. Plus, you get to use iPython Notebook, which I only just discovered, which is teh awesome browser-based development environment I've been waiting for all my life.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:17 AM
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In the future, everyone will use Wolfram Language.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:20 AM
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111 Junior lawyers have phones too these days. But it does take a lot fewer humans to have a law practice than it used to in the typewriter/white-out/read digests in the library era (which was ending as I was starting, but still palpable), even without considering the scam aspects.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:21 AM
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120: If he's right, we already are.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:21 AM
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So maybe the right formulation is: in the future, everyone will pay royalties to Stephen Wolfram for the use of "words", or as they will be known, "Wolframords".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:26 AM
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It's enough that someone somewhere will pay you to do something, but the vast majority of junior openings are for people with 3-5 years experience with a particular development stack and set of frameworks

That's what employers want, but they really seem desperate and willing to hire with much less than that. Many people in my bootcamp cohort are employed by this point, a month out, some for over 100k. I just had a technical interview for a position that would be entirely responsible for a startup's web front-end--is makes absolutely no sense that they'd even consider me, given my experience, but they did, because of how bubbly things are right now.

Of course I'm still unemployed and feeling hopeless, but if I ever start sending out applications something will probably happen.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:39 AM
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Also, on what language(s) and tools to learn question, I would suggest dong it backward: go to a big professional job listings site (like indeed.com), run some searches for the kind of job you want, and then see what skills seem to be in high-demand for them. (Or, conversely, run a simple search for "Python" and see what kind of jobs are being targeted at Python programmers).


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:40 AM
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Dude send out those applications or you could end up as my manny.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:40 AM
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125 is sound advice.

I forget trapnel, which language are you learning?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:44 AM
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I know some Ruby (+ Rails) & JavaScript. I know a bit of Python, too, but not much.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:47 AM
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100-101: Python may be the most common language in use for general scripting in libraries, but javascript/php/ruby are the main ones I see for web work. I think a fair amount of application development is in Java. Also perl is often used for certain types of data manipulation but it seems like people don't start with that anymore.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:49 AM
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But I don't understand where competent senior lawyers are going to come from if the apprenticeship structure, where you can get paid to learn how not to be useless, goes completely away.

There is no indication that the apprenticeship structure will go away. Junior lawyers still have to learn how not to be useless. Clients are just starting to decide that they would prefer not to pay for that. So I would imagine the profession will move back to something like a more traditional apprenticeship structure, where junior lawyers are paid much, much less while they're learning to be useful. The only weird part about the current setup is that they are paid so well during the years when they are so useless.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:58 AM
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You could pay him extra to back you up in Unfogged threads. "The kid can tie her own shoes! Fire up the laptop and I want five comments calling PGD an asshole!"


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:02 AM
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131 to 126.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:03 AM
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130: It's not that that would be unworkable, but the career track hasn't formed yet -- there aren't low-paying legal jobs that look like a route to high-paying legal jobs once you know what you're doing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:05 AM
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130 -- I guess this is banned in many states, but it seems like law firms could compete directly with law schools -- set up a paralegal to bar exam track that truly restores the 19th century system by which Abraham Lincoln, among others, became a lawyer. I do remember hearing that not all states require a JD.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:06 AM
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So I would imagine the profession will move back to something like a more traditional apprenticeship structure, where junior lawyers are paid much, much less while they're learning to be useful. The only weird part about the current setup is that they are paid so well during the years when they are so useless.

And then when they become useful they get fired, except for the few that make partner.


Posted by: Crpytpci ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:07 AM
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I really do kind of want Trapnel for my manny/paid amusing home layabout. I mean I know that's horrifically insulting and he's 1000x more ludicrously overqualified even than these Berkeley-Penn-USC chicks who applied. But oh man it would be so great. Definitely moves like 131 would be part of the employment description, but he could try to talk my kid into liking the Pirate Bay or whatever the fuck and things could get endlessly weird.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:08 AM
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And then when they become useful they get fired, except for the few that make partner.

That's no different than today. But at least at that point you've become a non-useless lawyer, which (often) may open some other doors.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:09 AM
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136: I've kind of been playing out variations on the Smearcase-and-trapnel-as-buddy-cops versus -mannies-working-for-the-Halfordismo-revolution since you made your comment yesterday, and I assume everyone else has too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:12 AM
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133 -- yes, that seems right. First year salary still remains kind of a proxy (at least among other lawyers, and at least among defense firms) for overall firm quality.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:12 AM
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Smearcase could come too, but I think he already has his own lawyer to live with.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:14 AM
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That's what employers want, but they really seem desperate and willing to hire with much less than that. Many people in my bootcamp cohort are employed by this point, a month out, some for over 100k.

Hey, I'd be curious to hear more about your bootcamp and job search experience if you don't mind contacting me off blog at the linked address. I kind of love the freedom and don't mind the insecurity of doing relatively low-rent contracted development work, but probably not forever.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:14 AM
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That's what employers want, but they really seem desperate and willing to hire with much less than that.

It seems like every job listing on the planet says "Basic requirements: 2 to 5 years doing this exact job". Not welcoming to the recent graduate. Or the recent PhD recipient. Or anyone.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:16 AM
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Library technology job example.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:17 AM
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To be 100% honest I really only want someone with about 2-5 years experience being a nanny.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:18 AM
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I think 133 is true precisely among the slowly shrinking number of firms whose clients are cost-insensitive enough that they haven't yet complained (loudly) about paying to train useless junior lawyers to become non-useless.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:18 AM
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OK, so to get the job in 143 all you need to learn is JavaScript, Python, JSON, Ruby on Rails, Semantic Web and linked data concepts and technologies, XML, OAI-PMH, MODS, MARC, Dublin Core, and the ability to administer PHP/MySQL applications such as WordPress and Omeka.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:19 AM
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"Basic requirements: 2 to 5 years doing this exact job". Not welcoming to the recent graduate. Or the recent PhD recipient. Or anyone.

I think of this as kind of a power move from the employer -- if they ask for qualifications they (a) can't get and (b) aren't going to get, then when they hire someone without them that person will feel unqualified, fraudulent, and guilty, and will therefore accept being mistreated.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:19 AM
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Meanwhile, in the broader legal market :

The median starting salary for new law school graduates from the Class of 2011 fell 5% from that for 2010 and has fallen nearly 17% just since 2009. The mean salary fell 6.5% compared with 2010, and since 2009 the mean has plunged almost 16% according to new research released today from NALP. The research also reveals that the median starting private practice salary fell over 18% from 2010 and since 2009 has fallen an astonishing 35%.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:21 AM
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Do people actually pay attention to those technical qualifications when applying for programming jobs? I would definitely not do that; they're often aspirational, and generally people understand that things move pretty fast, and people are going to have to learn on the job. Demonstrated technical competence is often what people are looking for, full stop.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:22 AM
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More of 133: I mean, our volunteer program that I am horrified by is sort of an apprenticeship -- new grads work for us for free, and we teach them how to lawyer. But I think it only works to get them onto the career ladder because we give them the same job-title the actual employees get: unless someone calling me for a reference specifically asked whether the position with our office was a paid one, I wouldn't affirmatively mention that it wasn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:23 AM
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145 -- Well (it's hard maintaining two separate conversations in the same thread at varying levels of seriousness but whatever) I think the response of most firms has been to cut the number of lawyers, or to start a non-apprentice track of contract lawyers who are either on a segregated track or outside the firm entirely, not to simply pay less in salary to junior lawyers who are expected to be fully trained. Our firm, which does try to compete with big law firms for clients based on a different billing model, basically uses the twin techniques of hiring few but very good lawyers and using contract lawyers when needed. That seems to work pretty well. I think we'd feel an internal, and possibly external, prestige hit if we just reduced the salary for first year lawyers, hired more first years, but paid them less, and it would certainly change the firm culture for the worse.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:23 AM
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148 to 151.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:25 AM
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OK, so to get the job in 143 all you need to learn is JavaScript, Python, JSON

JSON

I see this all the time, and it fucking kills me. JSON's the simplest fucking data format out there! Every language you could want to work in has a library for translating it into native data structures! There's nothing to know!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:25 AM
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I fear for the person who knows Javascript but can't figure out JSON, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:26 AM
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148 -- yes, but I think most of that is from the increased number of contract lawyers and the increasing number of crappy jobs, not from established firms drastically cutting salaries for first year lawyers who are expected to be on a partnership track.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:27 AM
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154: yeah I think I learned JSON by looking up what the letters "ON" meant and saying "oh."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:29 AM
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Demonstrated technical competence is often what people are looking for, full stop.

Probably broadly true, but in the context of career switchers or people who haven't been coding since their teens, this is hard to show in the absence of some credential or trusted gatekeeper's good word (or a couple years worth of very self-disciplined practice that allows you to make meaningful contributions to technically demanding open source projects).


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:33 AM
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established firms drastically cutting salaries for first year lawyers who are expected to be on a partnership track

This seems like an unrealistic avenue for change to emerge in the industry. What's more likely is that the number of "established" firms charging full weigh for their useless junior associates will continue to be static or slowly declining while cheaper alternatives continue to grow.

From 148:

Moreover, the distribution of those jobs by size of firm continued to shift, with relatively fewer jobs in the largest firms and relatively more jobs in firms of 50 or fewer attorneys. Nearly 60% of the law firm jobs taken by the Class of 2011 were in firms of 50 or fewer attorneys, compared with 53% for the Class of 2010 and 46% for the class of 2009. (These figures do not include graduates starting their own solo practice after graduating.) The proportion of jobs in firms of more than 250 lawyers decreased from 33% to just over 21% in just two years. This shift was reflected in the salary figures for the Class of 2010, and again in 2011....

"It is important to understand that the downward shift in starting salaries is not, for the most part, the result of individual legal employers paying new graduates less than they paid them in the past," according to Leipold. "Although some firms have lowered their starting salaries, and we are starting to see a measurable impact from lower paying non-partnership track lawyer jobs at large law firms, aggregate starting salaries have fallen over the last two years because graduates found fewer jobs with the highest-paying large law firms and many more jobs with lower-paying small law firms."

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:33 AM
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150. What if the person had been diligent but basically uinlikeable? Alternately, how would you recommend urple the intern to a prospective future employer whom you might see in the future?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:34 AM
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157: contributions to open source projects, code samples online, technical interviews aced, etc. The latter obviously doesn't help if you can't get in the door, but that's why, yeah, you do things like trapnel's bootcamp and put up a website with shit you have made and so on. But whatever your diligent at-home practice is does not need to use the technology stack the job in question requires.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:36 AM
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And the belief that solar storms influence human activity was a calling card of heliobiology, which was in turn part of the Russian cosmism movement which deified space and science, and was something of a predecessor to transhumanism.

Sometimes you just have to love the Russians.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:38 AM
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Whoops.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:39 AM
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Quite a few smaller firms are very explicit with associates (in a way large firms are not) that: they are paying a (relatively) modest salary because the junior associates are pretty useless, and a huge percentage of their time will be written off instead of being passed on to the client, but that's a deal the associate should be happy to accept because (1) we're giving you a partner-track job, and there aren't so many to go around, (2) we're teaching you how to be an effective lawyer.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:41 AM
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163 -- I'm not familiar with such places, or at least ones that compete for the same or similar client base as traditional big law clients. Doesn't mean they don't exist, of course.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:44 AM
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ones that compete for the same or similar client base as traditional big law clients

Almost all traditional big law clients use firms up and down the cost spectrum, from smaller local and regional firms for more routine matters to NY megafirms for higher-profile matters. While some corporate clients remain very cost-insensitive, many report efforts to push more of their work to lower-cost providers.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:54 AM
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I meant work that traditionally (as of, say, 2000) would be assigned to large law firms that paid large salaries to incoming first-year associates. Clearly there have always been places that have used the model in 163; the question that at least I'm concerned with is whether that model is replacing the kind of training for the kind of lawyers, issues, and matters that used to go to big law.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:58 AM
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160: comity.

I was mostly pushing back against the original "6 to 12 months claim". I would guess that gets the average adult with some aptitude: fluency with basic control structures and design patterns, familiarity with some of the more advanced constructs of whatever language they're learning, and the ability produce code that solves some well-bounded problem or meets the requirements of a clear, detailed spec. That and the ability to communicate in clearer English than most Indian and Chinese nationals will get you $15 / hr on odesk.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:16 PM
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I think those stats are hugely skewed, now and in the past, with vast underreporting on grads not going into Biglaw. But I don't think this has changed that much over time, though, so while the raw numbers might overstate mean and median incomes, the trend line is probably basically valid.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:23 PM
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143 is basically my job right now.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:49 PM
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re: 169

Mine, too. Or, rather, I manage projects that employ people with those job specs. But, given the nature of resource limitations, I still do those kinds of things on top of the project stuff as most of the projects I work on only employ two or three people. To mine you'd need to add a boatload of image related stuff since I work both with imaging and with metadata (bibliographic, structural, etc).

That said, I'm not a brilliant programmer. Most of the code I write is one-time then throw-away stuff, rather than stuff that gets deployed properly, or reused by people other than me.

'Shit, we need to get data from format $foo, into format $not-foo, and filter out all the shit that's not of type $X. Oh, and search over these X million folders to find the images that match the data. Then convert them into other format, and mash the whole lot into a Solr index.'

It's basically glorified shell scripting. So I need to understand the material I am working with, and be quite quick, but I'm definitely a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do programmer, as the people who work with/for me would be horrified by how little I do adheres to good practice.

re: 146

Sure, I could competently do all of those things [except the Ruby on Rails], and a lot more besides. However, when we are recruiting people, we include all of those things and more, but expect most people will come in with some of them and show some aptitude at interview for learning the rest.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:24 PM
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However, when we are recruiting people, we include all of those things and more, but expect most people will come in with some of them and show some aptitude at interview for learning the rest.

This is a very ordinary practice -- the qualifications for lots of jobs are aspirational rather than minimum standards. I have read, fairly recently, that it discourages female/minority applicants, who are much more likely to interpret requirements in a job listing as an inflexible baseline, and not apply if they don't meet it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:32 PM
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170
and show some aptitude at interview for learning the rest

How do you get them to show aptitude for learning during the interview?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:40 PM
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172: Constant progression of skills during their career. Asking them what the most recent things they've learned are, and how they found them out.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:43 PM
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How do you get them to show aptitude for learning during the interview?

Tell them to write FizzBuzz in Go. This is a good test of learning because nobody knows Go; they will have to learn it on the spot.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:46 PM
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This is a very ordinary practice -- the qualifications for lots of jobs are aspirational rather than minimum standards. I have read, fairly recently, that it discourages female/minority applicants, who are much more likely to interpret requirements in a job listing as an inflexible baseline, and not apply if they don't meet it.

I guess it's yet another example of needing to be an insider who speaks a special weird language in order to understand what's going on.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:46 PM
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I tend to do things like give them simple problems to solve that don't need any programming language specifics. I just want to hear them talk through the steps they'd take, the sort of information they might need, the various sub-problems they might need to solve, and so on. I often hand out diagrams with black boxes and ask them to explain what might go in the box.

I'm not an expert recruiter of programmers, though. The last couple of interviews I've done have been for metadata specialists, and sys admins.

But it's certainly possible to investigate people's basic problem solving skills without requiring them to come in with a load of knowledge already.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:54 PM
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That said, we rolled back on our job description for our standard developers recently, as we felt it was a bit off-putting to some people. Although, for what it's worth, our dev team is about 50/50 male/female now, but it was, for a long time, majority female. And out dev team is significantly less white than the UK population as a whole. There was a period when I was (literally) the only white male working in the team of 12 or so that I was previously part of.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:58 PM
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When did Scottish become "white"?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:59 PM
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The good news is that good communication skills are rarely prerequisites:

We need REAL developers, not want to be's that means if all you can only program in a frameworks like Cake Php or Zend YOU WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.

http://austin.craigslist.org/eng/4277996896.html


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:59 PM
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Oh no, all threads have devolved into a grey mass of learning-to-program talk! You're all monsters.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:00 PM
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REAL developers stay the hell away from php.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:05 PM
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Mind you, I've spent the week hacking together a Drupal theme. The whole framework is designed for maximum developer inconvenience.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:18 PM
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I have read, fairly recently, that it discourages female/minority applicants, who are much more likely to interpret requirements in a job listing as an inflexible baseline, and not apply if they don't meet it.

Oh, this is fascinating. There is definitely a breed of privilege-ish-ness that manifests as ignoring what people tell you they want and instead trying to convince them they want what you are offering. I am reminded of a dude I (vaguely) know who got a job (at Microsoft; he later became v. famous for same) by walking up to their booth at an MIT Asian-American job fair (he was neither Asian-American nor an MIT student) and talking his way into it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:25 PM
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Thanks all once again.

180 made me laugh.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:29 PM
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I posted that job example not because it's entry-level - I don't think it's good - but because it lists a lot of the current things people are using when they're building something new. Every institution is going to have its own requirements for particular positions. The wildcard is how much of a library background a library wants for IT positions. In some places they're separate roles; in others they're looking for people who have library backgrounds (in experience if not in education).


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 5:08 PM
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I have no idea how I ended up writing "I don't think it's good". I meant "I don't think it is [entry-level]." I do think it's a good job.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 5:09 PM
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Thanks, I'm more library than IT but I think it might be good to acquire some IT skills. I have a bit of a background or at least old interest in programming and tech.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 5:29 PM
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There is definitely a breed of privilege-ish-ness that manifests as ignoring what people tell you they want and instead trying to convince them they want what you are offering.

America is built on this.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:41 PM
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167: I disagree. From what I've seen, that set of skills can land you a full-time job that's perhaps half of what new grads with good pedigrees are commanding, which is still twice the median income in the U.S.

People who are really motivated can pick up a lot more than that in half a year or a year and do much better. Off the top of my head, I can think of maybe five people who changed career paths and landed the sort of job that someone with a B.S. or M.S. in CS would be happy to get straight out of school, and that's not including people who already had strong quant backgrounds.

And just to echo everyone else's sentiment, job requirements are bunk. I have literally never taken a job where I've met the official list of qualifications.


Posted by: Marie Antoinette | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:56 PM
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Back to the OP: This may have been mentioned, but according to Bill Moyers' blog, something called "The Internet Must Go" is a must read.

Gena Konstantinakos has made a film for you. "The Internet Must Go" tells the fictional and satirical tale of one man's journey in pursuit of the truth about Internet freedom, presented as a "secret report" underwritten by Internet Service Providers, much like the real-life ISP's trying to roadblock the information superhighway.

However, I have not watched it. Someone should do that and report back.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:12 PM
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One of my great skills is learning foreign languages, a skill that has no chance of ever being relevant in any job I might have, unless I get really eminent and at age 50 they want me to be the director of some scientific center in Brazil or something. So I'll try this Scientific Python thing. Maybe it'll be like learning a language.

I'm sick of people using words like "hash" and "stack" and me having no idea even how to figure out what they're talking about. Maybe this will help.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:13 PM
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183/188: Clay Shirky has written about that.

I definitely lack that particular sort of pushiness; I would be strongly discouraged from applying to a job in which I wasn't at least close to meeting the "required" qualifications.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:24 PM
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When I was last looking for work, I was given a copy of "What Color Are My Parachute Pants." It was a great book, unless you don't want a job in an MC Hammer tribute band.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:42 PM
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191.2: hash, stack and, by loose analogy, stack as we have used it in this thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:54 PM
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Unfortunately, no one has yet come up with a rigorous definition of "heap."


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:06 PM
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I have read, fairly recently, that it discourages female/minority applicants, who are much more likely to interpret requirements in a job listing as an inflexible baseline, and not apply if they don't meet it.

Oh man. I am struggling with this so much right now. I have three fabulous young women that I am working with, and I just cannot, CANNOT get them to conceive that it might ever be appropriate to apply for jobs in which they might not know 100% of every item on the requirements list.

And it's hard, because 20% of it is them accurately gauging the biases they're up against,* and realizing they're not going to get the benefit of the doubt on the job, and wanting to be good enough to succeed at it despite the doubters. But 80% is just a cock-eyed notion that a) the employer is rational and b) the people who do end up with the job were legitimately more qualified than them.

I don't want to gaslight them and pretend the biases aren't there.** But I can't figure out how to get them over the hump into actually realizing that OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT MORE QUALIFIED.

*None of them are white.

**It humiliates me to admit this, but one reason I know there are biases because of some of my own colleagues and board members have displayed them.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:06 PM
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Yeah, that sort of pushiness is something I completely lack, too, which is part of why I've only applied to like ten places so far.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 8:10 PM
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But I can't figure out how to get them over the hump into actually realizing that OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT MORE QUALIFIED.

Can you show them a bunch of applications for some other job, just so they can see what the process looks like from the other side? It can be hard to judge one application by itself, but when you have a bunch of them, it becomes very obvious that the people applying for the job have varying levels of ability and self-confidence -- and that those two attributes can vary quite independently of each other.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:18 PM
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198: That's a really good suggestion. I can definitely do that with one of them, and maybe the other two as well.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 9:51 PM
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I'm not sure it ever would have occurred to me to interpret job requirements as not being actually required.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:38 PM
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I'm also in the NickS/trapnel/essear camp on this, to no one's surprise.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:48 PM
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I just got an e-mail from a career coach I had been in touch with a while ago who wasn't taking clients at the time, but I connected with him on linkedin.

He just sent me the resume of someone for a job. I'm not going to be able to do anything, because I'm on the way out. It's for a QM job, and the young man (2013 grad) has human services experience (summer jobs), psychology and programming skills, so I supposed he could be qualified. But I doubt that they would take someone straight out of school. In some ways he's over-qualified. They're doing a lot of shit with google's spreadsheet, but I know that the person who had the job before had been with the organization for more than 30 years.

ATM--

A hiring manager and her boss have recommended me for a job with the state. I think that they probably did my background check. Next step is HR.

This is a unionized job. They asked for copies of my pay stubs so that they can determine the level that I come in at. Even at the lowest level, I would be making more money. I understand from my potential boss's boss that I should ask for what I want and emphasize the number of years I've had in a similar role.

My plan was to let HR offer something, say that I was thinking more like (4 steps above that on the pay scale) and then settle for 2 above.

Any tips on negotiating with a bureaucratic or government employer?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-17-14 9:26 PM
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