Bullshit Jobs and "duct taping" FLO software

Select quote from the absolutely phenomenal book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (actually a submission from one of the people interviewed for the book):

Where two decades ago, companies dismissed open source software and developed core technologies in-house, nowadays companies rely heavily on open source and employ software developers almost entirely to apply duct tape on core technologies they get for free.

In the end, you can see people doing the nongratifying duct-taping work during office hours and then doing gratifying work on core technologies during the night.
This leads to an interesting vicious circle: given that people choose to work on core technologies for free, no company is investing in those technologies. The underinvestment means that the core technologies are often unfinished, lacking quality, have a lot of rough edges, bugs, etc. That, in turn, creates need for duct tape and thus proliferation of duct-taping jobs.

The context of the quote: a discussion of the inverse relationship today between the real (intrinsic and socially meaningful) value of activities and the amount one gets paid generally. Many high-paid executive jobs have no intrinsic or social value at all, while the work that actually matters gets little to no funding.

Though simplistic generality in some ways, the observation largely holds true. In so many ways, the book is a very lay-person-style, pull-no-punches, refreshingly-honest assessment of today’s socioeconomic reality.[1] Though tangential, this is all intricately connected to everything around the Snowdrift.coop mission.

  1. In my experience, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory vies for greatest-insight with Graeber's older book Debt: The First 5,000 Years which introduced me to Graeber's work, and incidentally was recommended to me by Karl Fogel, FLO software expert, founder of QuestionCopyright.org and informal advisor to Snowdrift.coop early on. ↩︎

1 Appreciation