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posted by n1 on Friday August 22 2014, @03:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the casual-friday dept.

Robert McMillan writes that when it comes to computers, the federal government has a nasty reputation for prizing ISO standards and regulatory checkboxes above working code but now Mikey Dickerson, the former Google engineer who flew into Washington a year ago to salvage the disastrous Healthcare.gov website, says that's changing and the feds want all the techies out there to know Dickerson wasn’t forced to do his amazing job in a suit and tie.

If you do take a job at the White House, you may want to bring your own snacks, expect to work at a desk, not a couch, and hold off on bringing your skateboard to work. Still, the feds are trying to do tech in a clueful fashion. The Obama administration has opened the door to open-source software and collaborative coding. And, hey, even the CIA is using Amazon’s web services.

In a White House video, Dickerson, the new head of the US Digital Service, says he is asked one question again and again by people curious about his new job. They “want to know if I’m wearing a suit to work every day,” In the video, there’s a shot of a staff meeting where President Obama gives Dickerson and his fellow tech “hot-shots” a shout out. “They’re starting to look official now, aren’t they? They’ve got suits and everything,” Obama quips, a nod to the black jacket and yellow tie Dickerson has worn to the meeting. Dickerson tells the president this isn’t the norm. “This is literally only because you’re here,” he replies.

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by cafebabe on Friday August 22 2014, @04:23PM

    by cafebabe (894) on Friday August 22 2014, @04:23PM (#84385) Journal

    When I read the title, I had visions of the third sub-basement filled with adult babies or something equally bizarre [bash.org].

    (I'm not beyond reproach in this matter given that I spent the morning in a tiger onesie.)

    --
    1702845791×2
    • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday August 22 2014, @04:41PM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday August 22 2014, @04:41PM (#84397) Homepage

      Speaking of adult babies, I believe in a person being comfortable in their work environment, but I'm becoming concerned about grown men in the tech industry carrying their laptops in satchels.

      If I see one more man carrying a satchel, I will snatch it right off of him and beat him with it until he is unconscious. For fuck's sake, guys, have some self-respect. If you want casual, wear a damn backpack. If you want class, carry a briefcase.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @04:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @04:47PM (#84403)

        People who wear backpacks are either going hiking, or children.

        • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Saturday August 23 2014, @10:13AM

          by cafebabe (894) on Saturday August 23 2014, @10:13AM (#84634) Journal

          Some people wear backpacks because it gives them two hands free to fight bullies or thieves.

          --
          1702845791×2
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @06:40PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @06:40PM (#84432)

        If I see one more man carrying a satchel
        Do you mean a laptop bag? I never thought of them as 'casual'. Just a bag I can get crap out of quickly for the 5billionth time I have to yank the whole set of crap out in my shoe/underwear search at the airport.

        • (Score: 4, Funny) by aristarchus on Friday August 22 2014, @09:53PM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Friday August 22 2014, @09:53PM (#84497) Journal

          Satchels have a long history in male fashion! The ancient philosophical school, the Cynics, had something of a uniform that consisted of a double cloak (to double as a sleeping bag), a staff, and a satchel. Of course, the Cynics were also basically homeless and unemployed. Second, it was, during the era of muzzleloading firearms in early America, fashionable for every Mountainman worth his tobacco to have a "possibles bag" slung over the shoulder. It carried all the thinks he might possibly need on short notice, like more ammunition, a firestarter, and maybe a laptop.

          --
          You are currently banned from moderating. The last day of your ban is 2022-03-25.
        • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday August 22 2014, @10:46PM

          by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday August 22 2014, @10:46PM (#84513) Homepage

          It's only cool if you hold it like a briefcase, after throwing away the shoulder-strap of course. They do have handles, after all.

      • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Saturday August 23 2014, @10:19AM

        by cafebabe (894) on Saturday August 23 2014, @10:19AM (#84635) Journal

        Before it was common to carry laptops or tablets, a ridiculous backpack was security by obscurity. A padded laptop case may provide protection against bumps but if you're in a sketchy area, it may be preferable to not broadcast that you're carrying valuable electronics.

        --
        1702845791×2
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mechanicjay on Friday August 22 2014, @04:24PM

    “They’re starting to look official now, aren’t they? They’ve got suits and everything,”

    ...embodied by that attitude. Not just in Government but in Business in general. People who view technology as a black box run by funny people who shouldn't be let out in public, people who don't understand their business and how technology interacts with it.

    Really, it's an artifact of the MBA-ification of business in the US, which has completely leached into government as well. 60 years ago, the govt was on the cutting edge of tech, funding research and what not -- now we're reduced to back handed compliments by the president...awesome.

    --
    My VMS box beat up your Windows box.
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @04:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @04:36PM (#84395)

      “They’re starting to look official now, aren’t they? They’ve got suits and everything,”

      Was intended in humor and to make a statement about not selling out, but out of context it would easily be read as a deep insult to the vast majority of the real adults in this world. Far more wear uniforms to work then suits and even added together are exceeded in number by those who wear neither to work.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @06:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @06:50PM (#84439)

      Sixty years ago the government was a bureaucratic morass, just one that had triplicate carbon copies in typewriters instead of e-mail retention policies. That hasn't changed, despite the rise of the MBA.

      Sixty years ago, the coders, the managers, the scientists, the government, the engineers, the plutocrats, the poor -- they all wore ties and dressed "like adults" when leaving their houses, or even when having dinner at home. The standards of grooming to which people hold themselves -- that is, their willingness to practice self-discipline -- started plummeting around 1968. Man's view of his place in the world and duty to others changed, to the point that appearing well-dressed and well-groomed is now no longer understand as a point of courtesy towards one's peers (all of society), but either a mark of deference to superiors (donning a tie for the President) or of arrogance and misplaced feelings of superiority (the hipster in the bow tie).

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by dougisfunny on Friday August 22 2014, @07:50PM

        by dougisfunny (3458) on Friday August 22 2014, @07:50PM (#84455)

        Actually, 60 years ago 'coders' probably wore dresses not ties. Since the first coders were predominantly women.

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Saturday August 23 2014, @12:58AM

        by anubi (2828) on Saturday August 23 2014, @12:58AM (#84547) Journal

        Ummm... sixty years ago I remembered little monkeys dressed that way passing around little tin cups while an "organ grinder" man turned the crank on a box which translated rotary motion of its crank to a sequence of audio emissions. Even to this day, you can still see this scenario preserved in the old movies of the era - usually family sitcoms and comedies.

        The function of the monkey was to get people to part with their money and gets paid in peanuts for his theatrics.

        So, given the historical evidence, would not the title "White House Gives Up Making Coders Dress Like Monkeys" be just as appropriate? I mean if the President of the United States wants to dress up like a monkey, its his business, but why should it mean I have to look like that?

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25 2014, @08:34AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25 2014, @08:34AM (#85240)

        wearing a tie is self-discipline?

        pray tell what is your sensible reason to walk around with a literal noose around your neck?
        if your answer boils down to fashion, that's basically just 'but everyone else is doing it'

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Friday August 22 2014, @04:29PM

    by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Friday August 22 2014, @04:29PM (#84390)

    I don't get the "coder" part - this guy is a suit. He works as a manager for the government. He doesn't write code, he wrote some stupid "playbook" that no one is going to pay any attention to.

    Does the government even have coders any longer? Aren't they all outside contractors now?

    What's in this playbook, anyway? "Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery" - I think the government contracting industry is going to eat him for lunch. He is an outsider, and has no idea how these people work.

    "Assign one leader and hold that person accountable" - this only works if the accountable person has the authority to change how things are done, and I don't see a mid-level software project manager being given the authority to hire, fire, and spend money. That's not how the government works.

    I'm sorry, but this suit is going to be toast. He'll churn out these playbooks and other stuff for a few years, and the government contracting sector will have a good laugh when he's gone like every other reformer they've outlasted.

    --
    (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Lagg on Friday August 22 2014, @07:20PM

    by Lagg (105) on Friday August 22 2014, @07:20PM (#84448) Homepage Journal

    If you do take a job at the White House, you may want to bring your own snacks, expect to work at a desk, not a couch, and hold off on bringing your skateboard to work.

    Go to hell buddy. People like this clearly don't have the slightest clue about how people who write code act or dress. Because they're programmers they're going to dress in jeans and a stupid t-shirt and be riding rollerblades and shit? Did you get your ideas for how people in my field work by watching Hackers?

    It feels like I'm being talked down to when I see stuff like this. When I worked at an actual company still I dressed in a business casual suit with shirt and tie because that was just how it is. People might prefer otherwise and I do too but in what dimension do people like this live where they think they can treat adults who are the very reason their systems run like belligerent children. If this is all they have to attract new people that's pretty pathetic quite frankly. Plus how does he know the tone in which people ask this stuff? Maybe they're asking because they harbor the same mindset and don't want to work with manchildren or perhaps actually like wearing suits. Some people do.

    Obama can go to hell too. Official? So you're stupid enough to judge people's "officialness" due to the suit they're wearing? Well that actually explains quite a bit for this guy but still it looks like all you have to do to please obama is wear a suit! Maybe that's his groundbreaking plan to stop new Snowden-type employees from appearing.

    Also, the guy in the article's picture will be insulting too for anyone who values their appearance at their job. This guy is trying entirely way too hard to be the stereotypical "IT guy", shadow on both his chins, tacky t-shirt, the works. I'm sorry for the rambling but this is really just showing that the Whitehouse indeed hasn't changed if they think dress code is even worth mentioning as if it was representative of actual changes.

    --
    http://lagg.me [lagg.me] 🗿
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:51PM (#84476)

      I agree, where I work, the de-facto uniform is polo + slacks or jeans. I like that, I do occasionally wear a t-shirt on a friday or something, but for the most part I can be comfortable in a polo and honestly, since 90% or my interaction is with code, and the other 10% is with coders, how I dress isn't that big of a deal.

      Also, suits are about the worst designed form of clothing ever. Anything that prevents you from moving your arms in normal fashion is just a bad design.

      • (Score: 2) by migz on Saturday August 23 2014, @02:35PM

        by migz (1807) on Saturday August 23 2014, @02:35PM (#84664)

        Recall the origins of the suit and the inability to perform any sort of movement is part of the intent.

        Those wearing suits no doubt had a bevvy of servants to feed them grapes, and would otherwise only movement required would be the occasional sip of champagne.

        Besides suits were designed for cosmetic not functional use. What do you think a tie is for anyway?

        • (Score: 1) by David_W on Saturday August 23 2014, @09:02PM

          by David_W (3469) on Saturday August 23 2014, @09:02PM (#84752)

          What do you think a tie is for anyway?

          Other than for cutting off circulation to the brain, I've wondered this myself. Ties do not appear to serve any practical/functional purpose at all in an outfit. And for the most part I've never understood the cosmetic appeal of them either...

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday August 23 2014, @01:20AM

    by kaszz (4211) on Saturday August 23 2014, @01:20AM (#84554) Journal

    The main task is to solve a problem. But the more side shows that the problem solvers has to deal with (solve). The less mental focus is dedicated to the actual task. Be it clothing, excess grooming, social events, patting the ego of the boss, work positions (couch), location (telecommute), excess paperwork or reporting etc..

    Meritocraty for the win and focus on the problem solving. Everything else has to be thrown to the side.

    Lesson: The MBA show ends when reality takes a sharp bite of their illusionary disconnect with real values.