I work in the software industry, and while the company that I work for has not moved much of its programming offshore to India or other ‘third-world’ countries, many have. A programmer in Bangalore is a lot cheaper than a programmer in North America.
I was watching a TV show this morning about a new concept city in Arizona – with a very small footprint on the environment (they claimed use of only 2% of the space to house the same number of people as would be the case in urban sprawl). The residents grow their own food, have small dwellings, live very close to their neighbours, and most significantly, there is no provision for cars. Many of the residents work at crafts: carpentry, pottery, metal working, etc. It would be interesting to know how their products compare to similar products coming from the third world. My point here is whether the alternate, low consumption lifestyle workers in North America have a similar cost base to people working in a third-world country providing similar products. Or is it still more expensive so that the crafts have to command a premium price?
What’s this got to do with programmers? Well, why is that most alternate lifestyle communities in North America have crafts as their major occupation. As long as there is electricity and a connection to the Internet it is perfectly possible to pursue a range of occupations from any location – which is exactly why outsourcing of services like programming from third-world countries is now practical.
So what does this mean? Well, perhaps if you are a programmer in North America, the best way to defend your job would be to move to an alternate lifestyle community.
But this is not just true of programming. Recently I heard that reading x-rays is increasingly being outsourced to qualified radiologists in India… Soon we may all have to change our lifestyle and job location in response to the emergence of third world countries.