Today’s flow of creative expression, riding a tide of billions of instantly accessible digital images and clips, is rapidly becoming so free and recycling so reflexive that it is hard to imagine it being slowed, much less stanched [by copyright law].
Despite blanket media coverage of Wikileaks and Julian Assange, there has been little discussion of the fact that Assange is merely one leader within a large and complicated social movement. The better analyses have found it interesting that the Swedish Pirate Party are aiding Wikileaks; some note links to the German Chaos Computer Club. But only “geeks” and “hackers” (technology workers) are aware that all of these organisations are members of the same movement.
This social movement, which has been termed the “free culture movement”, has a thirty year history. It incorporates elements reminiscent of earlier workers’ movements: elements of class struggle, political agitation, and radical economics. The movement’s cadre, mainly technology workers, have been locked in conflict with the ruling class over the political and economic nature of information itself. As Wikileaks demonstrates, the outcome will have implications for all of us.The free culture movement exists as a consequence of the internet’s political economy. Personal computers have radically transformed the economic nature of information. Before the 1970s, a given piece of information was tied to a physical object - a piece of paper, an LP, a roll of film. Entire industries were built on selling paper, LP’s and rolls of film with particular bits of information on them. Then the personal computer arrived and suddenly information of all kinds could be duplicated infinitely at minimal cost - and distributed by the internet to a global audience. Every human could have a copy of every piece of art ever created for the cost of a broadband connection.
When it comes to offshoring, if unclear expectations, miscommunication, and poor cultural fit send a simple conversation about a deadline sideways...
... what about really big stuff like:
- Quality control testing
- Development standards
The implications are literally staggering. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the fact that every outsourced project hasn’t failed is something of a miracle. It’s a testament to having the right people who naturally and instinctually bridge these gaps through extra communication.
So what’s so hard about outsourcing? It’s hard because of the cultural baggage we bring to the table on both sides, and neither side necessarily realizes it because of assumed interactions. We need to be more aware of the cultural assumptions going in to projects like this, or we’re doomed to repeat them ad absurdum.
Managing this gulf in cultural expectations is a daily commitment. Shared backgrounds, frequent visits in both directions, and a culture of innovation go a long way to cross-pollinate the ideas vital to keeping more projects on track with local and offshore expectations.
We've been working with offshore developers for over a decade, and have definitely experienced many of the concerns Dave raises. But thanks to Eastern Europe's education standards and some of the most qualified, dedicated, and hardworking computer science professionals in the world, finding a local company to help you bridge the gap brings end results that are worth the effort.