If the reader took a 10 second pause, laughed nervously, and geared up for a necessary conversation, they/she/he would not differ from the room of 150 at the Spotify tech talk last Wednesday where this writer pulled some ostensible ish. Speaking of the latter, please excuse the title. This article will drive an ephemeral nail in the hyper-confluence of technology. A few things covered include the catalyst pulled at a Spotify tech talk, a take on the new “blue collar” tech market, and the programming bubble. Yep, tech as an ubiquitous scatter plot and its programmers consistently having a open acceptance means anyone can mention any two or three disconnected, tech things and make a generalization which gets validated by the button-up, resulting in a high lasting as long as instances on the web. Not that this article does that!
To gratify the main pull from the intro, the penning journalist may have pulled some shit at a Spotify talk. It may have opened the flood gates for a flogging of Spotify practices on the innocuous nerds the billion+ dollar company used to veil the company. The talk’s theme, Big Data and Machine Learning, has different interpretations. The talk started off as a, “Neat-o! Look what my Commodore-64 printed to the screen!” type of discussion. It also featured a product manager confidently varnishing the Spotify brands of care, passion, and intuition-to-the-costumer. Subjectively speaking, one had to wonder when the 150+ room would introduce the 500-pound gorilla into the room. At Q+A, people skirted around the ethics of big data and asked esoteric tech questions. “Does Coco, the 500-pound gorilla, like to have birthday parties? Does Coco have a favorite color?” More like, “Did Coco take my personal information and sell it to Guerrilla Marketing and The Horse in the Hospital?”
So, this writer asked, “What are your companies’ responses or your personal opinions on the Facebook — Cambridge Analytica scandal in regards to big data?” As intro’d: long pause, nervous laughter, then mainlining the for-realsies talk. Predictable answers of “customer first” from management, except for mentioning, “With great power, comes great responsibility. I think that’s from Star Wars or Spiderman.” How could political manipulation and invasion of privacy operate in tech when responsible parties can hide behind nerdom? Anyways, the engineer’s anger towards an un-tech savvy senate provided the other unexpected response.
Now that Coco got her bunch of bananas, other zookeepers wanted to talk with the powerhouse. The next question, paraphrased, “What are you doing to level the pay gap between mainstream musicians and small artists?”, with explicit use of the term, “exploit small artists”. The response from the manager, “That’s coming down the road (surprise!). We also want to help smaller artists by telling them what to make (paraphrased).” More zookeepers: “Does Spotify experiment on free plan users?” “If Spotify keeps suggesting the same music, won’t there be a lack of diversity and creativity?” The AI engineer had good answers to these probes, respectively, “Labels tell musicians what to make all the time, so Spotify provides a real life experience that way. There are no mad scientists experimenting on the freebie users. We suggest outliers in our recommendations to keep things interesting so not everybody wears black shoes suggested by the algorithm.” Meanwhile, the one panelist not from Spotify said, “Thanks for all the great questions!”
Blue Collar Coding & The Programming Bubble:
Keeping things short, since the ham fisted account of the knotty, big data issue just got addressed, a few quick things will follow. Medium’s Tyler Bettilyon presented a concern of a programming job bubble. Wired, in addition to featuring headlines “The End of Code” and “Move Over Coders…”, dubbed coding the next blue collar career field. Takeaways from Bettilyon’s article show that a main portion of law students make middle class income, he likens this to tech. Conception and media attention of corporate attack dogs getting fed a salary of Trump steaks, or choice stakes (incongruent metaphor), are like top-level computer geniuses. This societal conception leaves out other field careers “ paralegal, clerk, public defender, judge, legal services for businesses, contract writing” and will liken to “webmasters, site maintenance, and entry level devs”.
This goes hand in hand with the Wired article. At first, programming as a blue collar job did not sit well, having personally graduated from a bootcamp. After coming to an understanding this meant when blue collar meant past eras’ blue collar, where needs got met and able to provide a comfortable life (well, read Zinn), it got easier to digest. An ornament, and some adjustments to hopefully follow, to this notion, also make that attention-grabbing, coder schelpping title a wee bit easier. If coding goes blue collar, the profession of developing at a computer does not match to prior characteristics of the working class. A “Pixel collared” job bodes better than “oil derrick casualty”. As much as Wired likes to perennially knock coders off the lifeboat with its own oar, having a Pixel collared job providing a stable, comfortable, relatively stress free day job may prove acceptable but does the working class historically acquiesce to this? Personally, a Pixel collared coding day job seems acceptable, though it ruffles a few feathers, as a comedy writing dream job gets prioritized.