Computing is notorious for not having a worthwhile professional association. Some practitioners join the IEEE, the IET or the ACM. However, membership typically costs hundreds of dollars per year and offers little practical help to computer professionals working in small companies. If you're working for government or a large corporation or you're a super programmer in a well funded start-up then you probably have a union or you don't need a union. However, if you're the sole techie in a small business, appreciation for your dedication is just the start. What happens when you're asked to do something unethical or illegal? Where do you turn when a job goes sour? How do you avoid the problem? How can you avoid really toxic employers?
Rather than paying hundreds of dollars per year for talks and conferences, you require local experts who have first-hand experience of local employers and local employment problems. How can this be achieved reliably and cost-effectively? This is where our expertise should shine. Firstly, union entry should be at least as stringent as the conceirge union. Secondly, there should be a web-of-trust within each metropolitan region (and ideally between regions). In the best case, the network distance between all members should be four or less. Thirdly, an obligatory website should incur less hits than SoylentNews and therefore an upper bound for costs can be established for a volunteer effort. Essentially, it should be possible to run a union from donations of US$3000 per year or significantly less. Indeed, the major cost to members would be food and drink expenses when informally meeting other members.
So who wants to join a computer professional union with sensible fees and obligations?
(Score: 3, Interesting) by aristarchus on Sunday July 02 2017, @08:41PM (8 children)
Well, cafebabe said the "U" word, so any rational discussion, as usual, is going to be lacking. But in brief.
A profession is a "calling", a self-identification. Of course, just hanging out a shingle is not enough
A professional is possessed of specialized knowledge and/or expertise, that is not easily available.
This expertise serves individual clients, but also through them a greater social good.
But it is the organization, such as cafebabe seems to be calling for, that defines an actual profession. An actual profession sets, for itself and for society, standards of practice and professional ethics (NOooo, don't say CoC!!!!). It also takes responsibility for training and education of new members. And here is the important part: in order to function in this way, the profession, as an organization, must have a monopoly.
Trades do not have quite the same features, although skilled trades come close. There is a class distinction as well. Tradespeople are usually commoners, where professionals are Freiherrs, free people as opposed to servants or serfs. (Usually meaning post-graduate education in the profession.) But it comes down to the distinction between "work-for-hire" and "services rendered". A carpenter may be very skilled, but in the end he builds what his employer desires. An Architect or engineer does not do whatever his client wants her to do, instead they are hired precisely to tell the client what they should do. A profession has control over the ends to which its expertise is put.
The question of whether computing can be professionalized is rather up in the air. No doubt there is expertise, and even some ethical standards, but the lack of organization, control of entry and certification, and inability to enforce standards of application. Some professions have similar problems, however. Engineers should refuse to compromise safety, say, in favor of cost-saving. But if they stand up for the standards of the profession, they are likely to lose the gig, will the scumbag capitalist will just shop around for an engineer who has gotten hungry enough to do whatever they are told for money. This is the kind of thing cafebabe was suggesting that programmers need protection from.
And, as you probably already concluded, organization in the service of social good is something not likely to go over well in a trade that is full to the gills with gun-toting libertariantards!
(Score: 2) by turgid on Sunday July 02 2017, @09:04PM (4 children)
Lucid as ever. I conclude that professionalism is of a bygone era. Modern management actively seeks to crush it. I think I almost achieved it once. Funnily enough, that's when the Company was most pleased with the quantity and quality of my output. Bah!
I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent [wikipedia.org].
(Score: 2) by aristarchus on Sunday July 02 2017, @09:25PM (3 children)
Sadly, this is probably true. Of course, the entire concept only goes back to early sociology, and once something like this is being studied, it is already in a jar of formeldahyde. The medical profession has been increasingly squeezed by the "Health Care Industry", and the autonomy of faculty (one of the "oldest" professions, since they call themselves "professors") is under attack by something called "assessment" that is being imposed by amateurs (tradespeople). So it is not surprising that former professions are being reduced to having to form unions out of self-defense, and to defend the good of society.
Not strange in the least. The point is that when a professional provides a service for a client, they have a fiduciary responsibility to do what is in their client's best interests. The difficulty is that what is in the client's best interests may not always be what the client thinks it is. But a client smart enough to know why they have retained a professional will be smart enough to defer to the professional's superior judgment on precisely that question.
[Hypothetical instance: The President, as the amateur in chief, decides he wants to fire the Special Prosecutor, so the investigation of his administration will go away. His Attorney General, as a legal professional, would advise against this, both from the point of view of the President being really stupid if he thinks this will work, and the point of view of the nation's interest in the rule of law. If the President insists, the AG cannot comply, he must resign. And the same professional responsibility would fall on the Deputy AG, now acting AG, so he would also be forced to resign, if the President did not relent. And so it would go, until we get Borked. Bad lawyer, no ethics, not even professional ethics.]
(Score: 2) by turgid on Sunday July 02 2017, @09:42PM
I was brought up watching M*A*S*H. Corporal Clinger was always trying to get out under a Section 8. He had the right idea.
When I went to secondary school we had a debating society which I joined (and became the Useful Idiot) run by the solitary Classical Studies teacher. We dipped our young toes into Classical Studies and it was most enlightening.
Theses ancient Greeks were on to something, you know. If only they'd discovered electricity...
Modern Western business, and society, wants to fail. The loonies are in charge and they're wilfully ignorant.
I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent [wikipedia.org].
(Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @05:17AM (1 child)
The president can not fire the vice president, anybody in the judicial branch (does not include the Attorney General or FBI), or anybody in the legislative branch. This isn't very much. There are some security guards, people to give supreme court tours, etc.
He also can't literally fire contractors, but the distinction isn't terribly important. Federal contracting rules are very 1-sided against the contractors. Getting rid of contractors is easy.
For everybody else in the federal government, he sure can go on a firing spree. He might prefer to fire via subordinates, but he doesn't need to. With one executive order, they could all be gone. Every last federal employee, aside from the few listed above, could be made unemployed with the stroke of a pen. That includes the EPA, the military, the FBI... everything.
I don't know where you are getting this idea that the president isn't the boss, but it is very wrong.
Hiring is slightly limited. There are a few dozen positions for which congressional approval is required. Of course, it is easy enough to work around that limitation in most cases. Simply hire a person at the rank below, leave the desired rank empty, and let the desired person be the "Acting Secretary of X".
(Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday July 03 2017, @09:31AM
As would you, fuzzy arsed AC! Just Loving the Unitary Executive, are we? Ah, Dick "Dick" Cheney, the gift that just keeps on giving. But, you completely miss the point. Lawyers have professional ethics, not presidents. Some presidents even grab people by the genitals, but, um, that is wrong. You know this, right?
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @04:55AM
Client: Hey engineer, what should I do?
Engineer: Build a sex dungeon studio suited to make child rape/snuff video.
Client: Hey carpenter, the engineer says to build a sex dungeon studio suited to make child rape/snuff video.
Carpenter: As you desire!
Client: Woah there, I'm just the messenger. My engineer tells me what I should do.
Carpenter: I notice this thing isn't according to code. It has joists supported on duct tape. The walls are bare styrofoam, totally flammable.
Client: Shut up. You aren't an engineer. One more insubordinate outburst like that and you won't be leaving my sex dungeon alive.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @09:47AM (1 child)
So it is not enough that he possesses the knowledge, he has to be possessed by it? In that case, I'd prefer not to be a professional. ;-)
(Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday July 03 2017, @04:59PM
Yes, this is an important aspect of being a professional: it is what you are, not just what you do. A profession is not just a job. Part of this means you are never off-duty, and another part means you can never really quit, you can only become non-practicing.
Exactly, professions are not for everyone. And since the training (what is sometimes termed the "Déformation professionnelle" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9formation_professionnelle [wikipedia.org] ) can be an investment of years, it takes quite a bit of commitment, and washout rates can be high.
Daniel Day Lewis nailed it in a little known movie, "Eversmile, NewJersey". A motorcycle riding itinerant dentist is being seduced by whore in an Argentinian bar. But he says, "But I, am a Dentist!"