New Internet

I have much to say on Foster’s new Internet, but I hesitated to do so because I’ve had emails from folks the last month complimenting me on my enthusiastic and positive tone of voice in my recent weblog posts. My response to this “new” Internet is going to be neither enthusiastic nor positive.

Foster writes:

What will happen when amateurization and folksonomies make their way into enterprise web applications? What happens when IT managers can tag Oracle’s product documentation with their own words? Where will our bookmarks go when the idea of the “webpage” becomes obsolete?

Invention inspires invention. Ideas are collapsing into each other, recombining, and having powerful effects. The Internet has always been a medium for democratization, and by reconnecting with our idealism we’re once again uncovering its poetry, nobility, and transformative power.

I don’t know how it is in the rest of the world, but in the US move a hundred miles away from Boston, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and, for some reason, Texas, and the “new Internet” is the same as the “old Internet”. Management in companies are interested in system administration skills for Unix, Windows, .NET, J2EE, WebSphere, Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft, or any combination of these large, established technologies. For web development, they also want Dreamweaver and Flash, and can you show them ten sites you’ve worked on.

If you mention ‘tag’ in Kansas City, Denver, St. Louis, or Memphis, they think you want to play a kids game. Mention ‘folksonomy’ and you’ll just get blank stares. Ajax is a cleaner, and most people in these parts prefer Comet.

I spent the morning searching for jobs in St. Louis and the closest I found to match my current list of up to date skills is the following:

Qualifications

*Familiar with the culture/community of the World-Wide Web. Knowledge of Internet concepts and the latest developments on the web.

* Extensive knowledge of cross-platform browser compatibility restrictions and requirements.

* Leadership experience designing compelling user interfaces. Understands the strengths and limitations of browser-based UIs.

* Deep Web site development skills using ADO.NET, ASP.NET, Visual Basic .NET or C# .NET, VB Script and Java Script.

* E-Commerce experience a must.

* Ability to maintain attention to detail and complete multiple or repetitive tasks. Demonstrate a serious commitment to accuracy and quality while meeting goals or deadlines. Ability to work effectively with other team members and management. Must be a self-starter.

* Hands-On Experience with Microsoft Commerce Server, Content Management Server and Internet Information Server

* Database skills as they relate to application development. Outstanding software debugging skills. Adept at debugging complex applications.

* Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, MIS, Software Engineering or equivalent with a minimum of 3 to 5 years experience.

* MCAD or MCSD a plus.

Well, okay, this is a stretch. I haven’t been working with .NET technologies recently, but I have in the past and can study feverishly to update my skills. I do have some old Microsoft certificates, which might be good enough. One problem though–a further requirement:

All positions at Joyce Meyer Ministries require mature Christians who are faithful in their church attendance.

I have less than 200.00 in my bank account with another few bucks coming in for a tech review of a book chapter. This isn’t enough to pay my living expenses, much less my Internet connection costs and car payment.

I’ve applied to most of the companies that are looking for tech in this area but though my resumé looks impressive, if you look in the recent jobs listed, there isn’t a lot of companies between 2001 and today. In this area, they don’t know what weblogs are, they don’t care what books you’ve written, or that you’ve modified a weblogging tool and helped dozens of webloggers with their sites…and they especially don’t care that you’re jumping up and down with enthusiasm for–or against–tags or folksonomies. Companies in this area want solid, recent, corporate experience; using solid, not-too-recent, corporate tools.

Kottke’s response to Foster is to say how sad that money is having such an impact on all of this–and it was so great when the dot-com bust happened because people had time to work on really cool things then. Now, though:

Now that the money is back, the focus will necessarily shift even though, as Janice notes, we’ll be a little wiser about it this time around. There will be less innovation and activity from individuals because they’ll be snapped up by companies to work on their projects for their customers. The information flowing out of companies, even those that are pretty open, will be limited because of competitive and legal concerns. A person who — when she was unemployed 3 years ago — could spend a couple weeks in releasing a neat web app for anyone to use because she wanted to or could say what she wanted on her blog will now be putting all her coding energies into an application that serves a few customers & needs to be cash-flow positive and won’t have the time to post anything to her blog (and can’t say much about what she’s working on anyway unless all her readers want to sign NDAs). (Not saying this is bad…this is just what companies are for. But what’s good for companies, their shareholders, and their customers isn’t necessarily what’s good for environment those companies inhabit. On the other hand, everyone I know has more work than they know what to do with and that’s a good thing too.)

Must be nice to see the dot-com bust from the perspective of a 27 year old. But following through on his statement of “…everyone I know has more work than they know what to do with…”, I want to make a formal announcement that I am available to be snapped up, and will re-locate, sign a NDA, and keep as quiet as a church mouse about my work. And I’m more than happy to channel my working energies into an application that will only help a few people. Seriously.

Invention inspires invention. Ideas are collapsing into each other, recombining, and having powerful effects. The Internet has always been a medium for democratization, and by reconnecting with our idealism we’re once again uncovering its poetry, nobility, and transformative power.

I promise, as soon as I’m snapped up, I’ll re-read this last phrase again without going ‘what a crock of shit’ under my breath. Oh, and I’ll start jumping up and down again, too.

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