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Why Software Is Eating the World 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the om-nom-nom dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Web browser pioneer Marc Andreessen writes in the Wall Street Journal that software is 'eating the world.' He argues that software's importance to the economy is being underestimated, and will become much more evident in the near future. Quoting: 'But too much of the debate is still around financial valuation, as opposed to the underlying intrinsic value of the best of Silicon Valley's new companies. My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy. More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.'"
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Why Software Is Eating the World

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  • by digitallife (805599) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:29AM (#37153616)

    And yet developers are still treated like second class citizens in far too many organizations. The fact is that most management simply does not have any appreciation or understanding of good coding practices, instead using short term metrics to try to recognize valuable developers... Such as how little they are willing to work for. Just recently I read a comment here on slashdot from some developer who said his whole team had been working 12-16 hour days for a year and a half with no extra pay... Because it would "secure" their future with the company. They are in for a very sad surprise.

    • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:42AM (#37153748)

      and some places have little to no QA + poor IT support as well.

      A lot of falls on management who does not know that much about IT.

    • by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:43AM (#37153754)

      management simply does not have any appreciation or understanding of good coding practices

      There are no measures - just like there is no objective measurement of good prose. As a consequence management places value on things that it CAN measure: cost, time, manpower, bugs, lines of code. What all this means is that without any way to measure what is "good" code, or to quantify its "goodness" all the coding practices are really just as much hot air as any other management fad.

      Back to the reason why developers are considered 2nd class citizens (actually, fourth class: customers are second class citizens, prospective customers are first class and suppliers are third class). The reason is that they produce nothing with any measurable value. Sure the software they write SOMETIMES adds to a company's profits, but the link between a specific piece of code and a line in the P&L is tenuous at best and non-existent most of the time. If you want to improve your worth (to the company, to society, to yourself) come up with a way of demonstrating the hard-currency value of your code: how handling a particular exception is worth $500 and how reading that input data is worth $2000. When you can do that, there's be some value to employing developers - until then, they're just a cost item.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Billly Gates (198444)

        Management hates I.T. because their bosses are accountants who view it as a cost center rather than an asset. The problem is the bean counters are all upper management in most fortune 1,000 companies today and frankly do not care about productivity as programmers waste money anyway.

        Many are switching to clouds and switching from C#/C++ to Excel. If Excel was fine for these bean counters then it is fine for real programming too. Then they do not have to waste it on I.T. and these silly contracptions called d

        • All accountants do is measure some metrics, convert those measurements into a dollar value in a sort of "normalisation" process and then seek to maximise that value.

          That's fine. So long as the things they assign monetary value to are real (not necessarily tangible, but aren't simply fictional or some sort of trick/device) and the valuation process makes sense. The problem with software is that it's not well matched to this measuring / valuing / optimising mechanism.

          if the software industry is to thrive,

      • There are plenty of ways to do this kind of quality measurement and any competent management would be at least peripherally aware of these, know how to get more information about any of them, and be able to implement them. This is child's play with a product like code which can be directly inspected. Various forms of peer review, even very fancy double blind peer review systems, are easily constructed and managed with a few spreadsheets.

        What management needs to know is fairly simple: who are their best 20%

        • by Kjella (173770)

          What management needs to know is fairly simple: who are their best 20% of coders, and who are their worst 20%.

          There's really no such thing as a double blind peer review system if I know who's been working that code or I can recognize the coder's function/variable naming, style and commentary. Maybe if you have a large pool of coders this is possible, but in a smaller company it'd only cause noise I think. Don't forget that the manager usually can't tell if the reviews are honest, if you say it's working but has poor structure / design / maintainability / performance / whatever he'll probably buy it. There's a reaso

          • If the pool is too small for effective anonymity, you simply make it bigger. That might not be a bad idea anyway.

            Several small businesses that do not compete with each other can pool their peer review material without risking anything. Just to make it interesting, toss in some code from high quality FOSS work as well.

            With any luck, the average and good programmers will begin to tweak their code to improve its scoring in the peer review process, while recognizing that the reviewer may not have a clue abo

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by roman_mir (125474)

      In early 1920s cars were taking over the world.

      Assembly workers were still 2nd class citizens.

      --

      Those who know "HOW" will always have employment.

      Those who know "WHY" will always be employers.

      • by gad_zuki! (70830)

        Err, engineers aren't 2nd class citizens. The problem is that software engineers/coders still are.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Accounting ate the world 3000 years ago, and accountants are still treated as second-class citizens in organizations.

      • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Saturday August 20, 2011 @11:34AM (#37154274) Homepage

        As they should be. Once you acknowledge the fact that money is an artificial construct, the only realization is that accountants truly create nothing in the enterprise. They don't produce a saleable asset. They don't offer any services to the clients.

        If you run a company without an accountant, the only bad thing that will happen is the tax man will get angry.

        If you run a company without software, you have no company.

        • by cartman (18204)

          If you run a company without an accountant, the only bad thing that will happen is the tax man will get angry.

          I don't think you really believe this. Accounting is probably more important than software (this is coming from a programmer).

          If you run a company without an accountant

          Try running a company with more than 3-4 people without some kind of accounting. And don't say "I worked for company x with 10 employees and they had no accountant" because they did have an accountant, just somebody who had other role

        • by DaveGod (703167)

          the only realization is that accountants truly create nothing in the enterprise. They don't produce a saleable asset. They don't offer any services to the clients.

          Neither does anyone else not directly involved in production. Are you suggesting the only people of significance, the only people required, are the developers? Do you think everything else is just there, everything just works, by magic? You might want to consider getting out of your cubicle a bit more, maybe interact with colleagues from other are

      • by dwreid (966865)
        It's been my experience that accountants are the people with the most distance between them and reality. A number of years ago I worked for a computer company that was experiencing 30%+ annual growth. The president and co-founder decided to retire. The company moved the CFO into the president's position. Mr brilliant bean counter decided to make the company more profitable by terminating all of the sales force. Those hefty salaries and bonuses were a huge cost center. Now the balance sheet looked all profit
    • by RogerWilco (99615) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @11:21AM (#37154154) Homepage Journal

      I think the problem is that software developers aren't organized.

      I don't just mean something like a labour union. It could also be like the medics, civil engineers and lawyers, with widely regarded exams.

      We let ourselves be treated like this.

      I think it's because of three reasons:
      1) Unlike medics and civil engineers, there usually is no responsibility for failure.
      2) Software developers as a whole aren't the most social.
      3) Software engineers usually don't have money as their prime motivation.

      • I think developers still have enough reason to form a union. For example, if there was a union, it could very effectively ban the use of IE6 on the web, or it could put an end to the anti-competitive moves of apple, or force the W3C/WHATWG to give up their hijacking of web-standards.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by garyebickford (222422)

          I have been in two recruiting situations in which the fact that the company's software developers were unionized was a major factor in my decision not to go there. If nothing else, my own observations have shown that if a company's policies are so screwed up that the workers feel the need for a union I don't want to work there; and also that in some cases (for some particularly in the northeast US) many unions seem to still have a greedy, self-destructive attitude that continues to drive entire industries

          • "many unions seem to still have a greedy, self-destructive attitude that continues to drive entire industries out of business"

            You mean like, "We don't want to work for third world wages?" </snark>

      • by mikael (484) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @12:52PM (#37155026)

        Some IT departments bill by the hour. So there is pressure to get some feature implemented as quickly as possible as well as do *exactly* what the customer wants, along with a need to make as few changes as possible to minimize breaking the code. In the short-term this saves costs. In the long-term this makes code unwieldy, monolithic and harder to maintain.

        It's strange how we evolved C to C++ to make use of features like inheritance, polymorphism, pointers, templates and design patterns in order to encourage code reuse, then move over to other languages because doing all that design takes up too much time.

      • 1) Unlike medics and civil engineers, there usually is no responsibility for failure

        To be fair, medics and civil engineers generally aren't expected to re-learn the basic ways of doing their job on a regular basis either. Setting a broken arm or designing a bridge are done in a substantially similar manner to what they were 20 years ago, whereas software developers are constantly having to learn the latest programming paradigm/language/application framework (i.e. re-invention of the wheel) or risk bein
    • If you don't want to be mistreated and spat on, you organize and fight for your rights. The Haymarket massacre had to occur to get the work week done to forty hours in the first place. I wouldn't suggest anything so extreme, but I think software engineers and IT workers need to organize and unionize.

      If you think about it, you are better off in the International Union of Elevator Constructors or the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers, than being a rank and file coder. The difference? Unions!

      • by NekSnappa (803141)
        I feel a folk style organizing song coming on. What's the IT equivalent of silichosis?
      • by cartman (18204)

        If you think about it, you are better off in the International Union of Elevator Constructors or the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers, than being a rank and file coder.

        You don't seriously think this. Working class employees are treated far worse, have fewer options, make far less money, get fewer benefits, are less secure, and have less rewarding work than almost any white-collar employees. Everyone know this. Why would people spend $100k on college education, and lose years of earnings, with

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          The outcome for GE employees worked out about as well as a $100k college education worked out for Arther Anderson employees. So many people spend huge amounts of money on college and lose years of earnings because they can't do math. We have a cultural myth that college is a profitable endever. For some, it is. More often than not, the college graduate will never earn back the money they put into their education.
    • by dadioflex (854298)
      And yet, and yet... he's a software developer over-egging software development. Software development is like farming. Automation will render human input, not only irrelevant, but undesirable.
    • Most farmers didn't get rich during the agricultural revolution. Most factory workers didn't get rich during the industrial revolution. Software developers are a little better off because we've got skills that are _relatively_ rare and hard to acquire. However that's just enough to guarantee that we'll get decent wages (assuming we can find a job in the first place of course) not enough to make all, or even most of us rich and powerful.
    • Because it would "secure" their future with the company.

      This is their problem. As soon as someone starts saying, "You need to work more than 8 hours for no extra pay," that's when you start looking for another job. Don't let people treat you like that.

      There is no 'job security,' especially in the software industry. You need to view yourself as a service provider, who is providing a service to a company who is willing to pay a good price for the service. When they are no longer willing to pay, that's fine, take your service elsewhere. There ARE others.

      Securit

    • by HalAtWork (926717)

      The fact is that most management simply does not have any appreciation or understanding of good coding practices

      And they don't even value how a software engineer thinks. At my job, I've thought of many ways to combine and automate many tasks through the use of simple applications. While users would previously open various documents, copy and paste between them, and update from various email notifications, I have designed systems that keep central lists of information and are able to automate the creation/updating of these documents.

      They used to spend hours setting up tabs, fiddling with borders and fonts, and swit

    • by cartman (18204) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @07:18PM (#37157560)

      I see I've been modded down to "troll" by pointing out something which nobody could seriously dispute.

      Such as how little they are willing to work for. Just recently I read a comment here on slashdot from some developer who said his whole team had been working 12-16 hour days for a year and a half with no extra pay...

      That's just ridiculous and silly.

      It's extremely easy to find a job as a programmer right now which pays highish wages relative to other jobs, and which doesn't require working 12-16 hour days. Although there is significant unemployment right now, that unemployment is almost entirely among the working class, and among people who used to be employed in construction etc, and among millenials. The unemployment rate among experienced programmers is 4% at present, meaning unemployment in that sector is almost entirely frictional. At my company, for example, we're trying to find qualified people to hire, but it's virtually impossible. In other words, the labor market for programmers is as tight as it's ever been, with the possible exception of the 1999-2000 timeframe.

      Whoever is working 12-16 hour days for no additional money, for a year and a half, has made a silly choice, and has done himself harm for no reason whatsoever. He has many other easy alternatives, which he chose not to investigate or pursue.

      Of course, there are many people in this economy who lack skills or experience, and who are seriously suffering. But here we're getting complaints from programmers who have careers in a field with 4% unemployment.

      One needs only to type "software engineer pay" into google and come up with links like this one [payscale.com] which clearly indicate that someone with a Bachelor's degree makes $60k-$120k per year (not including benefits), Or I could type "unemployment sector" and find [thenextweb.com] that the unemployment rate for programmers is half the national average and that: "With an unemployment rate of under 4% in the tech sector, there’s a shortage of qualified technology professionals, TechFlash reports." Or I could type into google a query about how many hours most programmers work, and find from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that: "Most software engineers and programmers work 40 hours a week, but about 15 percent of software engineers and 11 percent of programmers worked more than 50 hours a week in 2008" which obviously means that working 12-16 hour days is rare. All this took about 60 seconds of research, but perhaps the people working 12-16 hour days never bothered to type these things into google?

      Part of living in a capitalist economy involves looking at the options available to you and selecting the best one given your circumstances. I know there is always some rare person who says something like: "I paid $45,000 for a $25,000 car, because I didn't even bother to walk across the street to some other dealership to look," but it's rare and signifies nothing other than that some lone person got ripped off.

      The odd thing is that there's constant complaining on slashdot among people, who are essentially highly privileged or fortunate workers. Programmers make $60-$120k for a Bachelor's degree and work 40 hours per week (which apparently is average, according to the BLS) with an unemployment rate of 4%. Clearly programmers are in the top 1% of workers worldwide, by a very comfortable margin, and are within the top 10% even among the rich countries. Nevertheless, they constantly insist on slashdot that they deserve much more than this and that they're the modern equivalent of slaves, that laws should be passed favoring them even more and that they should form unions etc.

      I realize this will be modded down to "troll". Of course, there are a few modders here (not most of them, of course) who think that anything which challenges any idea they have in their heads is a troll. Ohwell...

    • And yet developers are still treated like second class citizens in far too many organizations

      Well IT is regarded as a supporting role, same as the girl servicing the coffee machine or the guy mopping the bathroom floor. They're all needed, just not viewed as part of the core business (which regardless of industry tend to be: selling more than last quarter, reducing expense compared to last year, coming up with new processes at least once a year and measuring KPIs for those processes).

    • by DaveGod (703167)

      And yet ____________ are still treated like second class citizens in far too many organizations...

      This isn't novel to IT.

  • I don't believe it (Score:5, Informative)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:31AM (#37153644) Journal

    You cannot virtually grow food. In the end, humans need something real to eat.

    • by neokushan (932374) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:49AM (#37153820)

      That's bullcrap, my computer is chocked full of cookies and every time I visit a website, it grows more!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which food companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy. More and more major businesses and industries are being run on food, from movies to software to national defense...

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      And yet, a farmer can increase his yield by using monitoring equipment to more accurately time the addition of fertilizers. Harvesters can be driven with the aid of laser mapping, allowing for safer early-morning and late-night operation. Animals can be given more freedom and mad more comfortable, thanks to tracking beacons and climate-controlled housing.

      All of that nice equipment is managed by software.

    • Last I checked, only about 5% of people in the US are involved in agriculture. And much of agriculture and food production is already heavily automated. For that matter, so is heavy industry in general.

      Mass production depends upon repetitive work that is readily automated. Automation multiplies the effect of human creativity, meaning that you need fewer workers to produce the same amount. People have the idea that US doesn't produce anything real anymore, when the US still dominates global industrial produc

      • More and more, I think the real challenge is reorganizing society on the basis of a recognition that we ought to be doing a lot less work, that we're producing things needed only in order to support unnecessarily high levels of productivity, and that we'd all be better off if we spent less time and energy on production.

        I'm going to be pessimistic here. The problem is this: It's more efficient to have fewer skilled workers who each work for more hours. Given two alternatives, a company will almost always want to pay a single employee $40X for five days / 40 hours of work rather than paying five employees $8X for one day each, because it reduces training costs, benefit costs, etc. And there are plenty of people who are willing to work five days a week for five times the cash. But as automation reduces the number of employee

    • by theurge14 (820596)

      Try running a large scale ag business without software.

    • What exactly don't you believe? His main point was,

      Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not

      He's not saying, "software will replace every industry!" Nice strawman, though.

  • nah it's not eating it just yet, Cthulhu.exe has not even hit 1.0. We still have a few more developers minds to warp before we are ready for launch.
  • I always pictured software eating the world by becoming I giant "Blob" like creature composed entirely of a new substance called "bloatium"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:37AM (#37153696)

    There's certainly a revolution happening but it's not about software companies. That's confusing the food industry with the refrigeration industry. The winners of tomorrow are firms that can use software to create knowledge pools that can exploit new markets successfully. Future digital businesses may look more like 4chan than like IBM or Oracle.

    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      Future digital businesses may look more like 4chan than like IBM or Oracle.

      Capitalism is doomed.

    • by tqk (413719)

      Future digital businesses may look more like 4chan than like IBM or Oracle.

      Frankly, from what I've seen lately, we're already there. Every company and its dog now has "web presence", but it's so half-assedly done, it's useless. Yeah, you can finally apply to most jobs while still in your pyjamas, and you can log into some op's website and see the status of your account. On the other hand, try to discontinue a service you've subscribed to and you land back in telephone land. It took hours for shaw.ca to call me back yesterday. Unsubscribing from Telus (telephone provider) cann

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        On the other hand, try to discontinue a service you've subscribed to and you land back in telephone land. It took hours for shaw.ca to call me back yesterday. Unsubscribing from Telus (telephone provider) cannot be done in person with any form of "customer support" person; all done on the phone.

        Wow. It's almost as though companies don't want you to stop paying for their services.

        • by tqk (413719)

          It's almost as though companies don't want you to stop paying for their services.

          I'm moving. I'd think they'd want to impress me with their abilities so I'd want to re-subscribe to their service.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      So ... less evil.
  • by White Flame (1074973) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:39AM (#37153720)

    Does this guy work for the BSA?

    • "And, perhaps most telling, you can't have a bubble when people are constantly screaming "Bubble!""

      Has this person somehow avoided living through the real estate bubble, where everybody was screaming the same?

      It's very difficult to read this article.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Boy Scouts of America?

  • by cultiv8 (1660093)

    Quoting: 'But too much of the debate is still around financial valuation, as opposed to the underlying intrinsic value of the best of Silicon Valley's new companies.

    This is EXACTLY the point that anyone who works in IT makes: we're financially undervalued and our intrinsic value is overlooked.

    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      "Financial valuation" is supposed to measure the "underlying intrinsic value". When it doesn't, you get a bubble, and then a correction. Back in 2000, they bought this line of moonshine that software could create value from out of the air. And when the absurdity of that became obvious, a lot of people went bust. Software is valuable; the people who create it as a rule aren't. It's like diamond cutters: most of the world's diamonds are cut in sweatshops in India. Doesn't matter how expensive the product is,
      • You're just bitter. From all sources I've heard, the companies in Silicon Valley *are* talent starved, and would pay salaries much more than those of diamond cutters for talent.

        Writing good software is (I presume) harder than cutting diamonds. The market allows a higher salary.

        Of course, that doesn't make every software developer as wealthy as Bill Gates, but then, almost nobody is as wealthy as he is.

        • by 1u3hr (530656)

          Writing good software is (I presume) harder than cutting diamonds. The market allows a higher salary.

          Really? On what basis do you make that assumption? That you want it to be true? Both take years to master. Both can be done anywhere in the world and will inevitably move to wherever the salaries are lowest.

  • Electricities' importance to the economy is being underestimated, and will become much more evident in the near future.

    I can think of a few other things about which one could make similar assertions. As software, electricity, transportation systems and other technologies become integral to our lives and businesses, they become commoditized and pushed into the background of our conscious. We expect them to be there and to work. But when they do, we don't care much about it.

    This whole upcoming revolution i

  • I disagree with him, movies and audio are easily digitized, so they have moved over to software distribution easily. But it is fallacious thinking that movie and audio can be digitized that other things can as well. For instance, houses, cars, and so on cannot be digitized, they may use some software but this is just one component.

    Also, software runs on hardware, and that requires a physical devices, antennas, cables, and manufacturing and so on, and manufacturing of computers depends on hundreds of other i

    • by Lennie (16154)

      I think he means:

      A company like Amazon which people used to think is a books-company thus mostly about 'real world' things is actually a software company.

      They create their software to be more efficient at what they do than their competition, thus more profitable.

  • by Mozai (3547) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:46AM (#37153792) Homepage
    THIS JUST IN
    An expert of [field of study] believes [field of study] will change the world.
    Also emphasizes that other people are not taking [field of study] seriously.
  • Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software patents, with new global-economy-destroying patent trolls doing the disruption in more cases than not.

    There, FTFY. Your points are well taken, Marc (and well documented in singularity theory). The problem is, software patents reward litigation over innovation, so it's not going to be the information processing innovators who will win. Under the current system, we will continue to be the serfs -- skilled labor in a cage.

    The mor

  • Starting back in the late 70s, I spent a career telling senior managers in telecom and cable that "...it's a software world. Your projects aren't late because the hardware isn't ready, they're late because of software problems. The embarrassing failures in the widgets aren't hardware problems, they are in the software. The hang-up on rolling new services is that the billing and customer care software systems can't handle it."

    And in my last paid gig, trying to explain that last one to members of the st
    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      "No, you can't make that particular change be effective in July, because it will take 12 months to get the necessary modifications in the state's software systems finished."

      Puke. So developers now write our laws? They're the client. you do what they tell you. (And it it throws their system into chaos you bill for the overtime.)

      • by mikael (484)

        Sounds like California - they were wanting to make cost savings by reducing overtime payments or salary grades. It sounded simple, just update the Excel spreadsheet or whatever table they used. Didn't realize that the entire pay scale system was hard-coded in Cobol, as nested if-then-else statements. Every new employment grade had resulted in a new set of conditional statements. Just having a special exemption for a single year would have meant duplicating everything.

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          I am in California, and I have personally been in meetings where law was made for the continence of a software system. It wasn't directly made. It was a certification to legally provide X service is provided by Y state agency. Y state agency will only issue certification if business Z performs some action that is only required to accommodate Y's software system.
  • It is very very important, just like the hardware it runs on, the people who maintain it, the people who make it, the power to power it, etc, etc ,etc.
    And at the end of the day for 99% of software hundreds of thousands of people could of made it. Sure only one company did and then patented it but every developer on the team could of been replaced by someone else.

    This is like saying food is important, and obviously it is. but that does not mean that it does not grow on trees or that everybody and their mothe

  • by drolli (522659) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @11:10AM (#37154054) Journal

    DSPs killed of many analog designs.

    MC and PLCs killed of digital controls

    image recognition killed of many specialized sensing techniques.

    People building control panels are replaces by gui designers.

    Wiring of sensors in industrial plants is replaced by a single digital bus.

    • by mikael (484)

      You can go back further:

      1850's:
      Punched cards and weaving looms killed off skilled craftspeople (Luddites)

      1950's
      Punched cards and electro-mechanical computers killed off rooms of accountants and clerks.
      Automated electromechanical (Strowger) telephone exchanges kill off telephone switchboard operators.

      1980's
      Laser printers killed off print technicans and departments (boiler plate technicians and strippers).
      BT's System X killed off electro-mechanical exchanges
      Word processors/Desktop PC's killed off the need for

    • DSPs killed of many analog designs.

      MC and PLCs killed of digital controls

      image recognition killed of many specialized sensing techniques.

      People building control panels are replaces by gui designers.

      Wiring of sensors in industrial plants is replaced by a single digital bus.

      ... video killed the radio star?

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @11:14AM (#37154086)
    We think we're pretty good at "doing" software. That because it's been around for 50 or more years, we've basically got it cracked and we know all the problems.

    We don't

    If we were to liken the software "revolution" to the change that the world saw when printing was invented/developed/popularised, we're not at the end of that process - we're still futzing around trying to design workable printing presses and wondering why our ink doesn't stick to the dried leaves we call paper.

    Software isn't a process that we've mastered, we've barely started to use it. Hell, we don't even have a functional language to write our stuff in: one that deals with the abstractions and realities of the world we live in, as the spoken and written languages we use everyday allow us to communicate with each other..

  • The only winners are the Lawyers.

    Until these endless lawsuits stop Software won't eat the world.

    But hey, being able to sue anyone else for a billion dollars over something trivial is the American way right?

    Other parts of the world will move on and leave the US to carry on sinking in the quicksand of you sue me, I sue you.

    Very soon you will start seeing software packages marked 'Not for sale or use in the USA'.

  • (At least traditional companies). Software is not a product (and no, it isn't a service either. Supporting it is a service.)
  • The more important software becomes for the economy and standard of living, the more we can benefit from Free Software. Don't listen to the people who want to enforce software patents, DRM and proprietary SaaS everywhere in order to maintain existing inequalities in the distribution of goods. They would patent air and build a business on it if they could ...
    • I've thought that the reason for the triumph of the bourgeoisie in Europe is that in the middle ages, the aristocracy needed the products of the towns -- but the towns didn't need the aristocracy, and managed to obtain some independence of the aristocracy. This meant that, later on, when there were direct clashes, the aristocracy could never win, because they depended upon the products of the towns to control the towns.

      So, I've thought that by analogy, if we want to move past capitalism, we want to develop

  • Gotta love it. So Marc is complaining on the Wall Street Journal that "too much of the debate is still around financial valuation".

    Why, Marc, to them it is always about financial valuation!!!

    The importance of software in the economy has not been underestimated. I'd go as far as to say, it has been kept a secret. Our whole financial system runs on software. The stock market is driven by system trades. Our economy is pretty much online and runs on software.

    If you can't see it, it's because it's everywhere.

    H

  • The article is just trying to help float a new tech bubble. Except for "Art," software can't get more valuable than the products/services it facilitates. When it does, you've got another stupid bubble.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @04:15PM (#37156500)

    I'm surprised no one has already mentioned this -- Andresson is on the board of directors for HP. Last week HP announced they were dropping most hardware and converting to a "software" company. I think it's bullshit and so did a lot of people as their share price dropped 20% on the news.

    So, Marc is doing spin control by trying to sell HP's new plan in the form of a editorial in the Wall-Street Journal. Don't try to read anything deeper into it than that.

  • The value in software development is in why thing are done certain ways. Developers gain experience as they create software when things don't work. As a result, they remember that if things are certain ways, there are problems. Then in the future, while writing code, they do things a certain way knowing that results will be better, As they go from employer to employer, the products the write are consistently reliable and efficient and maintainable. As time went on, these kinds of folks were know as software
  • Marc Andreessen pretty much nails my current sentiment about our industry. Yet, as many have stated here already, 'We've got money to burn' prototype development aside, Software developmers are often still not treated very well. Which is why I'm quite confident in going freelance again, after leaving my last full-time employment.

    Launching a startup costs chump-change nowadays (just cancled my last dedicated server - no need for that in the last 3,5 years) and ideas and problems to solve are a dime a dozen.

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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