very nice to see you, too

From Foreign Affairs' <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050501faessay84311/thomas-bleha/down-to-the-wire.html">Down to the Wire</a>: <P><code>Once a leader in Internet innovation, the United States has fallen far behind Japan and other Asian states in deploying broadband and the latest mobile-phone technology. This lag will cost it dearly.</code>
<P>No big surprise here. Japan is moving ahead of the US in broadband deployment. However, Japan had better learn from its Korean neighbors, who deployed broadband like <a href="http://www.technet.org/technetissues/broadband_hawley/">crazy</a>, if the graph is true to life. However, they overextended and many of the Korean telcos <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_wsj-bringing_the_broadband_mi.htm">are now reorganized under bankruptcy</a>.<P>
And yes, it's been a while. I've been busy, what's your excuse?

Econ Theory 101.

Over the spring, I took Michael Fairbanks’ class in International Entrepreneurism. It’s not entrepreneurship as much as it is business as usual in developing countries; Fairbanks founded the OTF Group, which specialises in strategy consulting for developing nations like Macedonia, Jamaica, Rwanda, etc. One of the last lectures he delivered in the class was a discussion of strategy versus innovation. Which economic strategies exist that support innovation? Which suppress it?

In the class, we came up with nine ways to explain prosperity in developing countries:

1. Macroeconomic: structural incentives should be put in place by the government, everything else will follow. Stabilize, Privatize, Democratize, and Liberalize. See Jeffrey Sachs, Dani Rodrik.

2. Microeconomic: firms compete, not nations. See Michael Fairbanks, Michael Porter.

3. Institutional Domain: rule of law and social welfare leads to predictable behavior.

4. Natural Capitalism: all investments and development should be made with future prosperity in mind. See L. Hunter Lovins, Amory Lovins and Paul Hawken.

5. Cultural School: culture matters, and a cultural heritage can make you progress-prone or progress-resistant. See Harrison’s Culture Matters.

6. Knowledge School: individuals should be in pursuit of closing the ‘idea gap’. See Stiglitz and Romer.

7.Comparitive Advantage: all wealth is based on finite resources, and some countries can manage their resources better than others. See
Adam Smith, Ricardo, Malthus.

8. Human Capital: all knowledge has legs, the only investment worth caring about is ourselves. See
Gary S. Becker, and a nod to Nordstrom and Ridderstrale’s Funky Business and
Karaoke Capitalism.

9. Evolution: survival only belongs to the fittest. See Thomas Seoul and
Jared Diamond.

In this list, there are specialists who concentrate in one field, maybe two, maybe three. But what if a specialist can diversify and analyse developing countries from all nine different points of view? In the lecture, Fairbanks points to a place like the Fletcher School as a place with an ability to train diverse enough scholars/practitioners able to analyse on many levels; places like the Kennedy School all subscribe to Sachs’ point of view, and other schools like Columbia’s SIPA and Johns Hopkins’ SAIS can’t do much better than that.

Maybe I’m wrong, but seeing all the economic theories up on a wall is fascinating in and of itself. Fairbanks is big on fascination, and with it, he captures attention. At least for a short while.

Job History.

When I started working ten years ago, I had a BA in Russian and that was it. No technical skills. Some language skills, some office experience, but that was about all that there was. I got a job in the Ukraine after kicking around Austin Texas for a time, after graduation. I was earning 26k. Since I lived outside of the US for 300+ days a year, I got almost all of my taxes back to me. When I left several years later, the salary wasn’t that much higher, but it had always gone up every year, so it was close to 30k.

The other day I saw this on craigslist, and was pretty floored by the job description:

We’re a small Marketing company that has been in the Boston area for twenty years and we’re looking for a new team member to help us expand our web presence. We’re looking for either a PHP expert or a knowledgeable JAVA J2EE developer who has experience with a variety of other Open Source technologies and an expert knowledge of web based technologies like Flash, Cold Fusion, and Oracle. A strong working knowledge of C++ would also be desirable.

The job is full-time. You’ll spend approximately 20 to 30 hours a week as a developer and the remainder of your time filling out other critical roles within the organization: mail room, running errands, answering phones, light cleaning, etc.

We are currently hoping to find someone with either a BS or a Masters in either Computer Science or Software Engineering. You should be able to produce a portfolio of your work and provide three or more references.

The position pays 25k a year and requires travel to Worcester once a month. You can expect full benefits … (etc.)

holy crap, dude.

I can’t wait to stand in line for this one. Does it include toilet-washing, together with the phone and mail duties? At least the company could have billed it as a part time job and spared some college kid the agony of answering the phone after getting a BSCS…but wow.

Is all respect for the IT profession just going out the windows or what?

Publish or perish