The global advantage

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With U.S. enterprises increasingly looking to offshore talent to reduce costs, the American programmer has become, in bottom-line speak, a fungible asset. As the globalization of software development unfolds all around us, it's clear that dollars-per-line-of-code is but one of the equation's variables. Other factors influencing this view include time to market, the speed with which project teams and resources can be assembled, and the rate at which tools and techniques can be transferred between offshore outfits and U.S and European companies. [Full story at]

One of the common threads running through this story and the related conversation with Brian Behlendorf is social software. A much-hyped trend at the moment, it's a critical enabler for the globalization of all kinds of intellectual labor -- including software development.

In today's NY Times, there's a brief item entitled Turning to Friends for Facts. It cites a University of Washington study showing that people learn from friends and associates more than they learn from the Internet. Of course, the social software movement is rapidly erasing the difference between these two modes. Companies should encourage social interaction, one of the authors says, by providing free cafeteria meals. That's a good idea. Companies should also think hard about how to foster collegiality among distributed teams working around the clock in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Paul Venezia, a new InfoWorld freelancer who's one of the few alpha geeks I get to spend face-time with (he lives in Keene, NH, too), has been musing on his blog about the slow uptake of videoconferencing. We've yet to make use of this technology seem routine and casual, but the nature of distributed work may soon force the issue.

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