Long time readers may have noticed that I vanish from time to time. A week or two here; three months there and with rarely an explanation. Perhaps I owe you one and in particular to those who have been tossing the occasional virtual egg because I’ve not updated a certain graph.
I make my living as a freelance consultant, mostly on Linux based systems with which I have worked for nearly a decade. I do security checking, networking, administration, systems programming in whatever language people want. I sometimes do user applications. I design, purchase, and build racks of servers from components for special projects. I write system documentation and specifications. I do engineering design and analysis for complex systems and products. I take on pretty much anything ‘high end’ that has enough money and a long enough time line to soak up the learning curve. I rarely do the same thing twice.
When times are really bad, I have been known to pull out the Martin guitar and ring the local bar-owners and booking agents.
Sometimes, like this last spring, I spend months on the road. Other times, like the last two weeks, I telework. In either case “Have Laptop, Will Travel” is an appropriate motto for me. Perhaps a few of you know the original version of that line… but I’m not allowed to have one of those in the UK!
When work comes I have bills paid and my head down; when there are bad times… tuna and spaghetti do become boring. The other side of that tuppence is that I have loads of time to blog when I have no money; and barely time to read what others have written on my own blog when I’ve a contract on.
The last two weeks I’ve had a job on. The booking came quite in the nick of time, but I’ll not go into the gory details of life on the edge. Consequently I’ve not been much heard from lately, and for the last week not at all.
What I do for a living is a very stark example of why borders are dead. These last two weeks I have been part of a subcontractor crew on a JP Morgan business conference in Boston. We did live webcasts of the financial reports of CEO’s and CFO’s of a large number of JP Morgan ‘associated’ companies – Google’s CEO was among them – to fulfill SEC public disclosure requirements.
I sat here in my flat in Newtonabbey, on the outskirts of Belfast and worked with a team in the US. On the days of the setup and run, the crew was spread out over three locations in Manhattan, the hotel in Boston… and my flat in Northern Ireland.
Physical location has little meaning when you meet and work in cyberspace. Borders are a joke: they have been erased by the scouring terrabytes of global connectivity. I can be and work anywhere I want on this planet, any time I wish and noone can stop or question me.
True… no one in advanced societies is trying at present but even if they did they would have a very low chance of success. An attempt to control such international working would be an economic disaster in any case. If some State tried and succeeded the result would be a brain drain of massive proportions: “Would the last computer scientist over the border please turn off the data pipe?”
That is the deadly threat people like me hold over the State. I have distributed employment. I live where I like, not where I must. I am mobile. Screw with ‘me’ and you lose ‘me’. I use scare quotes because I am just one data point, one representative of a rapidly growing class of people whose day to day life is in cyberspace.
We are the future and we are killing the entire concept on which the State is based.