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re: Will software ever become "blue collar" work? VIEW POST

re: As someone who grew up in a family where blue-collar, in my case, heavy construction... Describing office work of any kind as "blue collar" is laug...

I think you're on to something here, but I disagree with your conclusion (or maybe it'd be more accurate that I disagree with the implications of how you phrased it).

I agree that Software Engineering will probably stay white-collar office work. I don't think coding will stay in the office.

For example, some of the leading movers in the "Right to Repair" movement aren't ivory-tower Free Software types - they're farmers who want to be able to crack open the code running their tractor because John Deer can't be bothered to fix the bug that's keeping it from working right.

Honestly, once we figure out how to teach coding as well as we teach auto mechanics, blue-collar workers are going to be all over that. Rebuilding a busted engine is every bit as complicated as most Python coding, we're just much, much better at teaching how to fix engines than we are teaching how to debug software.


To clarify more I hope; the part I find laughable, the thing I've been saying is calling an office job blue collar is a joke and disrespectful to those who actually do blue collar jobs. Those who do blue collar jobs are almost certainly underestimated... But I would challenge anyone in tech to do what my dad does for a living before they ever call themselves blue collar.

It sounds like we mostly agree, but our terms don't line up.

I don't think "coding" and "developing software" are the same thing, and "Will coding become blue-collar?" really depends on what we mean by "coding".

If I'm understanding right, we both agree that writing software that's a product is white-collar office work, and that's unlikely to ever change.

"Coding" is just another tool, and I think it'll be part of blue-collar jobs as soon as we can either build better tools or figure out how to teach coding better.

It's kind of like trig. It used to be mostly the domain of architects and engineers, the blue-collar tradesmen mostly stuck to a few familiar angles. With the help of a pocket calculator, accurate tools, and a reference book, it's become a regular part of roofing, carpentry, landscaping, etc. You don't need a specialist anymore.

One point I think we disagree on is that I don't think blue-collar work has to be hard on your body. It's unquestionably hands on and physical, but I've always been suspicious that blue-collar work is as hard on the body as it is because we don't prioritize developing tools that protect the user over the long term, rather than anything intrinsic to the work itself.

I can certainly agree with your sentiment on there should be better tools to protect users... I mean my dad has been part of the constructions industry for many many decades and only recently have I heard workers caring more about taking care of their health and it not being "badass" or whatever to just work through the pain.

Yeah he learned to do that crazy mathematics in his head as a grader running that tractor, surveying from that highpoint with out lasers just using the stakes and shit. Also as job foreman needing to just seeing what needs to be done by the other heavy equipment while also moving dirt himself.


I wish there was a way to help out peep's equipment when software stuff goes wrong. Unfortunately, I don't think Cat or JD is going to make whatever code they have open-source, as much as I'd like to git pull on a back hoe lol.

It sucks, because I remember back home one of my neighbors' carbine glitched out, and they had to pay some four-digit number to have a guy drive out and replace a circuit.

Yeah, this is super true. Fact is the newest heavy equipment have these problems all the time... Caterpillar in particular I know are more than..."insistent" companies don't try to fix it themselves or hack the machines. I think if they OSS that stuff the community would be able to fix so many of these issues so fast.

I think they might, but only as a last resort, and they'd have to be dragged every step of the way.

Right to Repair is thankfully much less of an ask: just don't try to actively prevent people from repairing the tools they buy :)


Also, them learning to code doesn't make coding blue collar it makes those badass blue collar workers wicked awesome. Now they are doing their blue-collar work and white collar hi-tech work with it. It's freaking awesome.


I am not a fan of equating office work to the hardcore physical jobs which are blue-collar if anything I respect the hell out of blue-collar workers willing to learn hi-tech.

But calling an office job blue collar is disrespectful of the physical labor and horrible toll those the types of jobs take on their bodies. If anything it's mitigating the effort/skills/tenacity/strength of those people doing those actual blue collar jobs.

I know how complicated rebuilding an engine can be, I did it with my dad, and he is wicked smart...people constantly underestimate how smart he is probably because he works in "just a blue collar job" they don't realize running dirt moving outfits he has learned to see the trigonometry and survey the land on the fly in his goddamn head... I can barely do those calculations on a calculator given an hour or two.

Developing isn't blue collar, I grew up blue collar, I've been blue collar, it's disrespectful to blue collar to call it that. It's my opinion and I expect it to be a contentious and polarizing one.

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