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Packing it in as a "free lance" SW developer?

In the small circle of online and offline buddies I know personally, I would say that fully half have dropped out of the independent market in the last year. They've either taken full time jobs, gotten completely out of IT, or can't find any work at all. I know very, very few people getting any indie work.

I have a current project that I have more or less "designed" myself into as a sole source. And the money is too good to compete with an FT job. No chest thumping here, as I've also had 4-6 mos of downtime in the last three years. Believe me, I have worked for this. This work should continue on for the next year.

So it occurs to me, as a dyed-in-the-wool contrarian, that if one can only hang in for another year or so, that there will simply will not be *any* measurable competition for work that is temporary and contractual in nature. Not every need justifies hire of a full time person. Those needs that do "beg" for a temporary person will go begging, because candidates will either be fully employed  or will be so rusty from lack of work that they won't be considered.

Am I nuts, arrogant, deluded, whistling in the dark? I do not think I am privy to any special wisdom - it just appears from a common sense standpoint that since almost everyone is running scared, those left should be able to find *something* to make the lean times worth their while...

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, April 22, 2003

I think you're talking about success by attrition - if you can hang on until your competitors all go away, you've won! 

But the question is, WHAT have you won?

Norrick
Tuesday, April 22, 2003

If the dollars pick up again all the people who dropped out will come back in (why shouldn't they if they're any good) and learn the new technology and bingo there's competition again. Also everybody will be lying through their back teeth about what they've been doing over the last year and the average pimp won't be able to figure it out or even care.

Demand will create supply, just like always, I mean look at us now, a huge supply with no demand so the supply is reducing. Expect matters to revert in the other direction if ever demand picks up.

Me, I'm a bit sick of it anyhow, 38 years old, 18 years experience, I'll just cherry pick good jobs and keep out of the droneforce as long as I can afford it.

Realist
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I have seen the same thing and it is not pretty.  I have been blessed to continue to find work over the past two years.  Looking out two years, and speaking to people who have business that trend in advance of the recovery curve, it is looking like post 2004 for an IT  recovery.

This is the first time that I have felt I needed to be able to last over a year to find comparable employment.

Mike Gamerland
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I think the commoditising of development work will create a huge demand for really good expertise as problems start to emerge, problems have to be corrected and boards start to face large maintenance paychecks from outsourcers.

The challenge for those really good developers will be holding out for their worth.

Perhaps, like older occupations, there will be more opportunity for "stars" to be known and sought after.

e
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Its happened before.  There have been serious downturns, mid-80's, 90-91.  Its recovered before, the interweb boom was the engine last time and lasted nigh on a decade.

For each boom there has to be some enabling technology that is simple enough for entry level low cost developers to be hired in vast numbers beyond their competance.  To manage that you need a serious of experienced people who hung on through the previous recession.

My tongue is only partially in my cheek.

There are a lot of people hoping that .NET is the vehicle this time, it doesn't feel like it to me.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

good question Norrick

As my dad used to say, The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat.

Simon also raises an interesting question. What is the next engine??

I don't think the next engine will be a specific platform. In my opinion, it will be something previously the preserve of academe and techies, and now accessible to Joe public, and more importantly, not yet discovered by the legislators.

I don't see any of that on the horizon. At some point, I thought it was going to be wireless (WiFi), but I think that all the companies that paid stupid money for 3G are fighting to keep that one locked out.

Right now, my money is on integration. After a huge tech expolosion, you always have a convergence/integration period. How long it will last ... who knows. An even greater mystery is where the money is in all of this.

tapiwa
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Integration will be part of it, anything which cuts through the lard of information overload in organisations is going to become popular.

Warehousing systems are cumbersome and need leviathians to process the data,  comments on transactions are good when you know they exist but difficult to float to the right level of attention.

Knowledge management will be the engine, but I don't think it qualifies for the growth in personnel that previous engines did.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Check out today's (April 23) Wall Street Journal, front page of section one, right hand column.  "In Silicon Valley, A Techie-for-Hire Struggles to Get By".  Pretty interesting, pretty much confirms what has been discussed here.

Sorry I don't have a link, WSJ.com is a paid subscription site.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

> Its happened before.  There have been serious downturns, mid-80's, 90-91.  Its recovered before, the interweb boom was the engine last time and lasted nigh on a decade.

True, however, one CAN say "This time it's different".

1) There has never been a lower barrier to entry.  All it takes is a $300 PC.  (Which can also be bought on an easy 0% down 5 year layaway payment plan)    Development kits are free.  Hell, even UNIX is free now.  Information is free.

2) It's easier.  Drag and drop, my man.....Drag an' drop....


3) Programming is not the intimidating esoteric black magic it once was.    Technology is now entrenched into daily life. 

4) There has never been such a plausible standard infrastructure to outsource.  Broadband, internet, email,  MS-Office, Windows....

5) There has never been such a magnitude of frivolous IT work being undertaken.  This has already begun to correct.

Bella
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

All you need to write a book is a few reams of paper and a box of pencils. Yet oddly there don't seem to be a lot of novelists lying around...

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

There's a s*load of novelists lying around.

Most of them don't make any money at it though.

see where this is going?
Thursday, April 24, 2003

"Programming is not the intimidating esoteric black magic it once was"

Strange that so few people seem to get it right then.


Thursday, April 24, 2003

Don't forget that the IT boom of the '90s was largely artificial, generated by fear of the Y2K bug.

The pundits at the time were saying "after Y2K companies can finally start spending on all the new stuff they've been putting off." Instead, companies have apparently decided they don't need that stuff they've been putting off after all.

Chris Tavares
Thursday, April 24, 2003

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