Ezine Archives - 2001 - indevelopment.org

I am a wanker. By that I mean I work in the Internet industry.

Not since the ad agencies of the 80’s has there been such a fatuous corporate scourge, masquerading as the workaday Utopia. Bring your dog to work, wear casual, eat free pizza and be "cool" because you’re in the Internet industry and maybe you’ll become a millionaire when the company goes public.

The undercurrent of disdain towards this industry is about to turn into a tidal wave. Look at Fuckedcompany.com or Netslaves.com and read about people’s experiences. Some may earn 200,000 per annum but most of them work 18 hours a day to get that money. Others can’t even get share options and those that do are cursing the fact they are worth less than they were on the issuing date.

The rest? In Australia, many developers and editors earn below average wages (despite many of them having experience and, in many cases, post-graduate degrees). In America, the case is similar though it could be argued that they are under greater strain due to the exorbitant cost of living in techie hotspots such as San Francisco and New York City.

If you look at the media coverage about the Internet industry, you might be fooled into thinking that it was a utopic bliss of informality, good humour and glaringly bright achievement. People come into work everyday smiling, ecstatic to be a part of their company, work towards team goals and get rich in the process.

The reality is most ‘net workers get in early, checking their e-mails to see what new surreality the managers have put into an e-mail format (see work directions, moving deadlines) and then slave their butts off until they can crawl defeatedly back home. Show me a happy net worker and I’ll show you an overpaid manager living in the bliss of ignorance.

This brings us to management and their wily ways. There are two new styles of insidious management pervading the coding and copy floor. One is the aggressive and confrontational style – an abusive boss, substandard working conditions, low pay and poor communication.

Then there is the even more dangerous style of management – the lying creep. The CEO or middle management who like it creepy style will encourage pets to be brought into the office, paid lunches every day, pizza nights and casual dress. Each supposed boon is a manacle. Why go home when your dog is there with you? Why take a lunch break when someone’s already put it on your desk? Why not stay longer after work if you’ve already had pizza there? Wanting to slip out of casual dress so you can put on a suit to go to an interview? They’ll spot it.

These aren’t tactics to enhance productivity or make you feel more lovey dovey towards your work – they’re in place to lure you into working longer than you should or have to. Then the managers will go off to the media and tell them how they are really "Socialist" (this from an Australian CEO who proudly claims in his prospectus how there is no union involvement in his company).

I used to think that the Internet industry was similar to the flower power movement of the ‘60s. I thought these were just people trying to make a difference and make work a better place. Nope. These are just people who want to make a fast buck and look glamorous at the same time.

In what industry would a business launch with a flawed business plan and little funding? What businesses start out thinking "I’ll have 90% of the market in 3 months" or "We’ll open on the stock exchange 6 months after we begin business"? The answer to this question is, of course, the Internet industry.

In the cyber-sphere, there is no emphasis on quality and there is no brake pedal. Fortunately, the laws of karma still apply in cyber space and harvest season has just begun. Many e-commerce sites are beginning to close their doors, victims of bad planning, bad products and bad management. Advertising won’t sell sites, good products will.

No matter how much some people may despise them, there is a need for a solid infrastructure, organisation and management who not only understand their industry but can manage as well. Here’s a revolutionary thought for the cyber-obsessed 21st century: why not run e-commerce stores like a business?


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