The Age of the Commodity Developer is Over

So why am I still talking about this?

In the early 2000s, somehow the industry got convinced that software was just another form of manufacturing, if you defined a process and applied it rigorously, little chunks of perfectly coded software would come spewing out the end of your assembly line.  Since it was manufacturing processes, labor could be sourced from anywhere and we could all get our software faster, better and at lower cost.

In 2001 my job got offshored, just like many of us that worked through that period.  However, my particular offshoring is remarkable in that I truly got offshored.  The firm hired a company which purchased an old cruise ship and had it parked somewhere off the coast of San Diego in international waters.  Some poor sods from various countries were relegated to a permanent offshore vacation where they coded 24 hours a day.  Yes!  The CTO explained how at the end of one person’s 12 hour shift,  they would simply step aside and the new person would hop in the chair and just pickup where he/she left off.  All that work we were trying to tell people would take 3 more months would be done in a few weeks!

It’s now 10+ years later and I haven’t heard about a massive flotilla of cruise ships blocking the entire western coastline of the USA so I’m assuming this model didn’t catch on.  Actually I know it didn’t catch on as the CTO absolutely failed to deliver any software at all after six months of trying.  Being that it was a startup, it than promptly disappeared.

In any case, the renaissance of the local software engineer took over a few years ago and shows no sign of stopping.  Yet I still find myself in conversations regarding the commodity nature of developers.  Does this happen to anyone else?