Commercial Software Development & Scarcity


Zyzyxx Rd., Mojave Desert, California

… the commercial software community has developed one particular response to resource limitation: a fevered, workaholic approach to software development—error prone, hectic, family-destroying, health-degrading, night-haunting. If you are undermanned by a factor of 2, add a second 8-hour workday per physical day. If you are operating under a schedule 50% too short, add in another 32 hours per week by working weekends. Then pray for luck or push back on features and quality.

Scarcity breeds a commodity or exchange economy. Until almost 1980, there were essentially no markets for software. Before 1980, most computers were owned by companies and used for “large tasks.” When computers were commoditized, the resource limitations inherent in software development became an opportunity for exploitation, and any relief to those limitations meant less wealth to go around. Draw your own conclusions.

– Richard P. Gabriel & Ron Goldman, ‘Mob Software: The Erotic Life of Code’

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