Thursday, March 6, 2008

WHERE DO OLD TECHIES GO?

We moved to Silicon Valley in 1996. It was a hotbed of excitement, new technology, and the smartest people I have ever met from all around the globe. Our project meetings were like the United Nations with brilliant people of every color and nationality. We were heady with the excitement over our latest revolutionary technology product and the prospect of customers using it. Silicon Valley was a wondrous place to be for a techie. At that same time, the outskirts of town had cheap housing, the salaries were high, and Techies were considered and treated as the most important asset of every big and small tech company in the valley.

Those days have ended as the jobs slowly moved overseas. First testing jobs, then coding, then designing, then managing, and finally architecting the software and hardware products. Lower labor costs were initially valued over experience or locality. Now, Asian workers have gained the experience and most corporate services have co-located with them in their countries. I am not saying it wasn’t a good idea to move the jobs to Asia, nor that the world's software products aren’t better off being developed and maintained in Asia; I think they might be. But those wonderous days of Techies being king in Silicon Valley are over.

Sure, internet jobs have sprung up, but they don’t pay as well. Housing and rents have gone up (even with the downtown they are still over double what they were in 1996) and the cost of living has quadrupled. The jobs are geared for the younger set that never knew a world without the internet, game consoles and cell phones.

As a sit in Hilo, Hawaii, connected to the whole world through my high speed internet service, I wonder what value an old information technology worker is to the world today. What grand new opportunities will these new global information tools offer to once again generate the heady excitement of creating solutions for the issues of the day?

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