Search Engine Watch takes another look at Teoma vs Google.
Kimbro Staken: "Oracle 9i is now by every definition that I know of, a native XML database."
Jon Udell: "Microsoft's Jeff Raikes beat the drum this morning for the tablet PC."
Sean Gallagher: "White male juries are hanging juries."
Glenn Fleishman: Monoliths and Their Causes.
Fabien Petitcolas: MP3 steganographic tool.
Joshua Whalen: "One of the hardest and most nasty things that happened to me the first time I tried to quit was my lungs filling up with phlegm, and my sinuses getting all congested." Yup, happening here.
The emails continue to be fantastic. So many smart people leading me to other smart people. It's so funny just a couple of weeks ago we were talking about the value of tech blogs. It turns out a couple of cardiologists are regular readers. The father of one of my readers is a smoking cessation researcher at Stanford. Joshua Whalen has great practical advice for real people quitting cigarettes. Are they tech people? Yes of course they all are. Led me to an interesting place. In some areas we have deep respect for the techies. I saw that at the hospital. It's deserved resepect. What these people do is rocket science, beyone the comprehension of people who don't have deep and specialized training, and talent and perseverence. When the time comes we put our lives in their hands. While in the hospital, contemplating the piece I will certainly write at some point, reluctantly I came to the conclusion that the lead of the story would have to be this: They saved my life. So are techies worth it? Hey, if they can save your life, yes, certainly.
So this leads me to the next question -- does my software ever save anyone's life? Is there enough value in it so that I could earn the kind of money the doctors earn (they have to be making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year). I'm pretty sure that to be a top software developer requires as much training, perseverence, rocket science -- as being a top surgeon; but our society doesn't value us equally. When medical legislation comes up in Washington, for example, it's not uncommon for doctors to testify -- but when legislation or court decisions affecting technology comes up, no developers are asked to explain the technology. You get CEOs of tech companies, but that's a far cry from a practicing software developer.
Sidebar: There's no doubt that weblog software and news aggregators can save lives. A combination of our stuff and Google's, deployed behind a decent firewall at the FBI or CIA, could solve many of their terrorism information sharing problems. Further, I have no doubt that weblogs used more deliberately in health care would be good, and of course health care saves people's lives. And perhaps this series of notes on smoking cessation will help a couple of other people to quit before getting a deadly illness. So while it may seem grandiose to think of software as life-saving, it isn't really a huge stretch.
I came to the conclusion that at some point our civilization will either value excellence in information technology, or will suffer a big setback. We're building so many systems on the little ones and zeroes, but yet our universities turn out crappy developers with no ladder to climb, few real heroes to look up to, few bonafide life saving techie role models.
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