Jack J. Woehr’s BYTE review of Ed Yourdon’s new book “Outsource This!” (pay site, unfortunately) is a gem as absolute slaughters go. I will just quote the final paragraph here, but the whole thing is a classic:
It would be wrong to acquit the author on grounds of ignorance. Despite being marginally informed, Ed Yourdon knows exactly what he is doing for his readership, especially when he makes their spines tingle by invoking denizens of their anxiety closet: turbaned job-stealing foreigners, underpaying jobs at Wal-Mart, etc. The truth is that Yourdon is heir to the itinerate mages who brandished lunar eclipses to cow neolithic hunter-gatherers.
In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Drezner writes an excellent article called The Outsourcing Bogeyman, which ought to be required reading for everyone interested in the subject (especially if combined with Wired’s on-the-ground version of the same topic.)
Favorite quote: “[..] believing that offshore outsourcing causes unemployment is the economic equivalent of believing that the sun revolves around the earth: intuitively compelling but clearly wrong.”
As usual, the problem is political – the reaction rather than the action.
Daniel Pink has written a wonderful article about offshoring IT work to India in Wired 12.02. It shows all those things you know and argue about: That Indian programmers are not working in sweat shops, but earning many multiples of average Indian salaries – at CMM 5 levels of quality. That outsourcing in the long run will benefit Western economies – but that individuals will suffer in the short run. And most of all, that we are talking about real people here, with no villains and no way to get the genie back in the bottle.
Bob Cringely is a tech columnist for PBS, and the author of what I consider to be the best history of Silicon Valley yet (and one of the best titles ever made): Accidental Empires: How the boys of Silicon Valley make their millions, battle foreign competition, and still can’t get a date. (Amazon). However, in a recent column, he made some statements about offshoring that I deeply disagree with – so I sent him an email. We had a quite interesting discussion, I think – at least, interesting enough to post here. (And, of course, his feedback email address has the text “click here to tell Bob he’s a dipstick”, hence the subject line…..)
(This had been very lightly edited: Some spellings fixed, links, and formatting.)