Now that I'm a mid-career software developer, I'm making my highest salary so far and I do maybe two hours of work a week, so I agree with the "more pointless the job, the higher the pay" comment. At least when I flipped burgers, people were being fed.
Sometimes people are really busy because they are doing a bad job.
Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory, which was having some kind of difficulty. Ford asked Tesla if he could help identify the problem area. Tesla walked up to a wall of boilerplate and made a small X in chalk on one of the plates. Ford was thrilled, and told him to send an invoice.
The bill arrived, for $10,000. Ford asked for a breakdown. Tesla sent another invoice, indicating a $1 charge for marking the wall with an X, and $9,999 for knowing where to put it.
> Upon arriving, Steinmetz rejected all assistance and asked only for a notebook, pencil and cot. According to Scott, Steinmetz listened to the generator and scribbled computations on the notepad for two straight days and nights. On the second night, he asked for a ladder, climbed up the generator and made a chalk mark on its side. Then he told Ford’s skeptical engineers to remove a plate at the mark and replace sixteen windings from the field coil. They did, and the generator performed to perfection.
This is what bothers me the most... in those 2 hours, I somehow save the company 8 hours a week because somebody was doing by hand what I did in a few lines of code.
Is that "positive value"? Sure, I made the company more efficient, but what's this person doing now? Did I make their job "more pointless"? I mean, I can't see what I did as a bad thing per se but... I just don't know how it plays out in the end.
I feel like there's a huge piece of the "work" puzzle that's missing in our culture.
When I was a consultant, I knew I was on track to provide positive value to a client when I was working myself out of a job by automating everything that I could and by writing thorough documentation so that the full-timers could easily maintain what I had left behind.
And no, I don't think you made that person's job more pointless: you made it more comfortable by eliminating waste. As the saying goes, "Machines should work; people should think."
Maybe, but that's not the whole explanation. The whole explanation includes job duties that now involve managing a team, performing analysis and leadership functions for several business areas, setting agency standards, and so on. None of those tasks appear as commits in the version control system but still are assigned tasks that take up time.
When I am working on code I often still don't have the commit. A team member may come to me, "I have a question, I'm stuck on this part..." Then together we will investigate and discover a way forward. I'll then leave it to them to complete and commit it. Their name is the only name on the commit, but did I add any value? I hope so!
The end result was that the more responsibility I had, the less code I wrote.
I believe I am dead weight at my company.
Édit: bonus. How many have never shipped anything during their career?
But there is a utility in this. We work on software, in which a small team can create a thing that has utility for millions of people for years. With that potential upside, it makes sense to spend the resources on a project even when the odds are less than 50/50 that you will meet the success criteria.
I assume people must be buying stuff to use up excess budget at the end of fiscal years.
Doesn't make it feel good to be a part of such an impersonal and abstract process, especially when software's already kinda impersonal and abstract on the best days.
On the other hand, there's a good segment of those users who basically "live" (w.r.t work) in the software; every time I walk by the customer users area I see it front and center on their screens, which is a good feeling.
Finding equally meaningful employment would probably be pretty hard though, and from what I've heard of the game dev industry, that route wouldn't likely be worth it.
This doesn't mean that the higher the pay the more pointless the job, even though that's what they imply at the end
However, there is a closely related topic: bullsh1tting!
P.S. my favourite scene from the video is the guy rolling his head up and down the keyboard answering emails. Must try it.
then there's all the necessary jobs that exist because humans living in hives creates many challenges of its own. police, fire fighters, medical jobs, lawyers and judges, legislators, etc. are all necessary functions for city-dwelling.
you might be noticing that most of these jobs are not things that have a whole lot of venture funded software companies working on. no, most of our venture funded software is fairly trivial and unimportant stuff in the grand scheme of things.
for example, I just manage servers and shit for a company that, on a fundamental level, is a hunger merchant. our product is hunger. we make people want to consume more. it's certainly not a necessary thing. in fact, it is probably harmful at least a little bit. there are worse things but what we do isn't really a good thing, at least not in any obvious way.
so yeah, not all jobs are pointless. but a lot of software jobs are.
So you think every hunter-gatherer is extremely unhappy?