Saturday, August 9, 2008

Readership blues

One of the reasons I regret that this blog doesn't get more traffic is that I honestly would love to get more ideas from readers. This is not just to drive more ideas for posts, though that doesn't hurt. Instead, it comes from my desire to further what I feel is one of the benefits of the new blog world (I can't bring myself to say "blogosphere") - the ability to experience differing viewpoints about my topics of interest. I like that in other blogs, at least before the discussion devolves into pointless trollism. I'd like it even more in my own blog, as I'm sure that the things I write about are interesting to me, and I do enjoy reading what others think about those things.

Even the exchanges I've had that turned out to be disagreeable have been instructive. The fellow who believes that the most important topic, bar none, is whether the economy meets the "technical" definition of a recession, and exults when he finds that it does not, well, I find that focus on what I consider the most trivial part of our economic situation most curious. But it is instructive.

Another fellow who looks at his own situation, considers it to be pretty good, and takes that to mean that everything is essentially fine for everyone else, is again very interesting to me. I don't happen to share that viewpoint, finding it questionable for the vast mass of people and for the economy as a whole, but I respect it. (To speak a little more specifically, that he has gone from a pizza delivery job to a $50/hour technical position is quite commendable. His equanimity in the face of the possibility that the new global economy could have him back delivering pizzas next year is also commendable. The implications, however, are quite strange. He can never make a commitment to a house that is anything but temporary, his kids could well lurch from school to school depending on the neighborhood he can afford that year; most vitally, for the larger economy, there is an inefficiency in having a person with skills worth $50/hour delivering pizzas, no matter how acceptable it may be to that individual.)

The best commenters, from my point of view, are those folks who essentially agree with me but add something, some nugget of fact or opinion, that I can ponder and include in my viewpoint. I've had some very good comments along those lines from Citizen Carrie; most recently I had a very thought-provoking comment on my Wednesday post from Greg. (I won't comment more specifically on that now, as I am still thinking about it and formulating my thoughts as a post for one of these days.)

So, while I am certainly grateful for those folks who do swing by and offer their thoughts from time to time, I can't help but wish there were a few more. It would be nice to see this form of "virtual conversation" expand. (And, yes, I understand the concept of "be careful what you wish for.")


Anonymous said...

You're right that I am dynamic, and I do adjust. But as for actual impact on my lifestyle, it's a lot more favorable than you seem to understand.

I own a house and hold a lease on another. I'm contributing $500 to the YMCA this weekend. I'm also loaning $25,000 to an immigrant for her education. I'm not rich at all but I'm fortunate. I could make a committment to a third house, though I don't think this is what you're asking. I've evolved a nimble set of tools including financial tools to protect me against the risks of high-tech employment, while capitalizing on rewards. One reason I work so hard (for me) lately is because the work is there to be done with good compensation. Perhaps it won't last. That's the fact I know and live with and you... wish would disappear? Between us, who is more able to commit to a home and/or a child? Which one of us is the realist?

Excluding two years back-n-forth to Brooklyn, I've lived in the same area about 15 years, and the schools and lifestyle here are good or great. The home I own is a land neighbor to Seattle Prep, considered Seattle's #2 private secondary school after Lakeside. I was telling my roommate today that my current neighborhood is sketchy (it's 2:30am and there are still people revelling and hooting in the street outside my window), but the home itself where I live could support a child and a wife with ease and grace. I maintain a five-figure bank account of cash borrowed without interest, which operates over an enormous ($200k) credit cushion. So I'm able to capitalize on market conditions (including employment market conditions) far more nimbly than a great many Americans. My heart goes out to those harmed and undermined by globalism, and to those just plum bad at finance. I am also aware of a remarkable upside to globalism (and finance) that helps a great many people. And I support sensible intervention for people impacted by global change. But you seem to want to take the risk out of a fundamentally dynamic and risky marketplace. I find this view far out. I don't think it's a desirable or a possible goal.

Let me tell you about delivering pizza. I had a car and I was in an economic downturn. Nobody would hire me for any purpose, except pizza delivery, and I love pizza, so I got the job. First I got the day shift, hustling pizzas. At the same time, I created software that ultimately earned a substantial return (around $30k so far). At the pizzaria, I went from driver to cook to Saturday night driver to I.T. support to personnel to web expansion. I was given fifty dollar bills for keeping the old DOS sales system online. I'm trying to tell you something I was showing myself then: There's a reason I'm a "humble baller" now, and no matter where I am, I will take on the challenge. I'm not saying I'm super-special. But I am defending the meaning of that period, perhaps alluding to the experiences and traits that make me comfortable and confident even in the face of global competition at global labor rates, and finally I'm disputing your view that there was all that much inefficiency. The experience made me very aggressive and ambitious through the last five years in high-tech employment.

You annoyed me by saying I was using this blog as my own soapbox so I left. I have a blog with readership in the hundreds and I don't need yours. Just as Carrie went a little crazy with the false accusations and mischaracterizations while forming her underhanded appraisal of me and my values and views, you said I'm on MY soapbox when it's your soapbox and every post shows it. I was always trying to communicate with you. You're a curious cat who is, in my view, barking up the wrong tree. To say your heart is in the right place, I need to add that mine is, too. And largely our views are diametric: I embrace what you oppose, and I believe you advocate (some) misled policies based on misled ideas. You and Carrie and Red Oak and the other guy are a blogospheric eddy of rhetorical chaff-sifting and articulating, a basic blogospheric function of workman analysis of news as a single ideological stripe. I respect your "blog-as-Platonic dialogue" but I don't think you've respected my role. No, you've got passion, you've got a handful of people who consistently read, agree, and comment, and you've decided that's the frontier. I'm just, what, soapboxing? No, I was boxing at your views where I found them mistaken, until you felt like putting me in a box and keeping the blogospheric weather patterns here narrow and predictable.

I wrote of you and your views today (just freewriting, something I do a lot, even if I don't publish most of it):

"the whole notion of 'reliable' high-tech jobs is itself funny. i know i've expressed my view before. But having engaged some of these theses published here, I am happier than ever to live in a wild frontier of innovation, that does not readily commoditize. The involvement of Indians is a welcome blessing, as is the continued dynamism of employment in the field. If a person can do the job, and it's their best option, they'll do it, for the best price they can negotiate. If the job was in India, because we prohibited both visiting workers and immigrants, then I wouldn't be blessed with the addition of such a brilliant culture to my own, but my wage would be the same. As for dollars and cents, the Indians I've known have been wonderful, memorable people. One was paid in rupees and another in dollars. I met one fifteen years ago who has grown a family here, contributing to this community and culture. I welcome the culture, and I welcome the impact they have commercially. It is just one aspect of the industry that continues to grow, but the other aspects such as global communication and collaboration... these were research topics 15 years ago. Now they're day-to-day ones. Who do you have to thank for this? Anyone who worked hard to make software better, and succeeded. Their nationality has never mattered. Their nation of work has never mattered. And their innovation unseats and upends, no matter where they do it. That's high-tech, and you can't bottle it. Why bother trying?"

Knock yourself out, Plato. You're pretty smart, and your heart's in the right place. I'm the same damn way.

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