Paul Graham has an interesting theory about unions and about how it applies to development. Working for a large agency is a great way to ensure that there is high paying work. The work environments have a high division of labour to increase efficiency of output and the specialization of individual worker skills.
“Basically, unions were just Razorfish.”
Hmmmm, Razorfish as the union. Paying people “huge sums of money for building the most trivial things”. It still happens. The names of the companies have changed. But this process still exists. It’s been mitigated by near-shoring, off-shoring, etc. But essentially there is still a need for specialized bodies to do the labour. Produce the wireframes. Push the pixels. Work the web production line.
Often we look down on Microsoft Certifications because this is not grad school. Because the thought of being the IT professional that configures servers, develops VBA apps in Excel repulses us, because we think we have better ideas. Yet, there are companies, people, ideas and wealth created solving some of these problems.
We strive to work for IDEO, Ziba, frog design. Or maybe it’s Google, Yahoo!, Amazon or Microsoft Research. We want to do high value work. Some of us dream of startups. But most of the time, we do work for clients that are optimizing their costs. “Build me a beautiful easy-to-use web site that is unique but doesn’t break any of the established norms and by the way, I only want to spend $x. I want it done yesterday, and really what I want is it to look exactly like the web site I have.” Building a startup is one great way to be able to define your own corporate culture. You still have clients but you’re not selling them your time, you are selling them a technology that does something better. Lots of people are unsure about starting a company. There are lots of reasons to not start a company. But given a choice and the shift in how wealth is created, I have a lot of respect for people that do it.
Check out ConceptShare, JobLoft and others. They are doing great things.