Fwd: On receiving an interview request from Uber

Charles Cossé ccosse at gmail.com
Sun Dec 18 00:55:21 UTC 2016

Hi Paul, is it for me to respond?  Hmm I'll give it a shot ...

On Sat, Dec 17, 2016 at 2:26 PM, Paul Boddie <paul at boddie.org.uk> wrote:

> On Saturday 17. December 2016 20.48.24 Charles Cossé wrote:
> >
> > I'm all about free software, and paying to develop free software is a
> step
> > in the right direction, but still ... the likelihood that the software
> > would even benefit another elevator manufacturer seems unrealistic ...
> This is where we come full circle in a discussion that has largely been
> tangential to what the original message was about. First of all, the
> freedoms
> associated with Free Software go far beyond whether only the producers get
> benefits from such transparency: to focus only on that would be a classic
> "open source" argument.

Yeah, my original comment was merely that "it's even worse than undermining
taxi drivers, Uber is undermining their own Uber drivers".  I know, I am
one sometimes.  And my main point that was not included was about the
company giving-away their competitive advantage ... I'd like to see that
addressed more than the less significant comment that you quoted.  But
anyway ...

> Where this returns to the original message is in precisely the matter of
> whether people can make a decent living and do so ethically. The second
> point
> made in that message may seem like a totally separate thing from the
> experience of the software developer working on Uber's infrastructure.
> Here's
> a quote contrasting the benefits of a driver and a developer at Uber:
> "Keep in mind that you don’t get fringe benefits as an independent
> contractor.
> No paid sick leave or vacation days, no subsidized health insurance or free
> coffee or snacks in the company cafeteria. No employer matching
> contributions
> to your 401(k) savings plan. No educational assistance, group term life
> insurance, health savings accounts and so forth.
> Things would be different if you worked for Uber Technologies. You would
> receive a 401(k) plan, gym reimbursement, nine paid company holidays, full
> medical/dental/visions package and an unlimited vacation policy. You might
> even get snacks in Uber’s lunchroom."
> https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/02/20/
> the-hidden-costs-
> of-being-an-uber-driver/
> <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/02/20/the-hidden-costs-of-being-an-uber-driver/>

Are you suggesting that developers at Uber are unethical by virtue of
contributing to the demise of the taxi industry?  If so, I don't think you
can go that far and still defend the position ... we all gotta eat.  Recall
reply #2 re: elevator software put elevator attendants out of business ...
by such argument that transition would have been unethical and any
subsequent software, free or otherwise, shares the blame ...

> Just as Uber and other companies do very nicely out of the "gig economy" by
> encouraging people to work without normal employment protections and
> rights,
> emphasising the "flexible" aspects of working as a contractor and the
> supposedly greater rewards available, those doing the work appear to end up
> working for less, paying for necessities out of their own pocket (like
> healthcare and insurance), or maybe even doing without those things
> completely. And people working for Uber's competitors experience an
> erosion of
> their own working conditions as Uber unfairly competes and forces those
> competitors to reduce their own expenses.

"unfairly"?  It may not be particularly palatable (me included) but change
always sucks for somebody.  Am I wrong?

> Now, software development for Uber might be done on a regular employment
> contract, meaning that people in those jobs have escaped the "gig economy"
> (for now), but elsewhere the drive for deregulation and exploitation still
> applies. When you note that "paying to develop free software is a step in
> the
> right direction", it indicates that people still expect Free Software
> developers to work for less than others or even for nothing, all because
> some
> people made a thing out of "open source" being more economically
> "efficient",
> and thus introducing a rather similar phenomenon of leaning on the workers
> to
> be cheaper at producing stuff so that businesses can be more profitable.

Well yes, you are preaching to the choir.  I think the developer should get
as much as possible.  I don't like the perception of entitlement to free
software at the expense of some developer.  My noting that being paid "is a
step in the right direction" doesn't indicate that *I* think FOSS
developers should work for less.  Not at all.

> So it turns out that those of us wanting to write Free Software and get
> paid
> for it actually have more in common with the average Uber driver than one
> might first have thought. Carsten's objections are both valid ones after
> all.

Yup, exactly what I meant, and what I believe I was saying, at least as far
as what you quoted me on.

> Paul
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Linkedin <https://www.linkedin.com/in/charles-cosse> | E-Learning


Linkedin <https://www.linkedin.com/in/charles-cosse> | E-Learning
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