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Upside: Corporate coders confined

Aug 11, 2000, 08:42 (10 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ryan Tate)

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"Shuttering its MP3 search service Thursday, America Online became an unwitting symbol of a growing disconnect between computer programmers and corporate America. The incident, in which the entertainment conglomerate quashed an internally developed system in the name of corporate policy, was but the latest case of a company muzzling programmers even as it struggles to hire and retain them...."

"The disconnect between AOL and its programmers comes at an awkward time for the company. On the one hand, it is eager to complete its multibillion-dollar acquisition of Time Warner, an old media company rich in the sort of original content AOL needs to deepen and expand its massive Internet service."

"On the other, the company is facing a general worker shortage that has pushed the unemployment rate down to 4.1 percent as of May and that, according to Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, represents "the greatest threat" to the booming economy...."

"Seth Schoen, a senior Linux consultant at LinuxCare, says a programmer acquaintance found himself literally sandwiched when one corporation wanted to hire him for his innovative programming skills while the company's lawyers were breathing down his neck over a Web project he was involved with. "He was being recruited by one division of Sony and the other was saying, 'cease and desist.' "

"Dave Winer, who started programming in the 1960s and subsequently earned millions of dollars working for software firms, says that he felt "forced" into running his own publishing software company, because the software industry "does not acknowledge a separate role for creators ... we trash the careers of software developers and pay them a lot of money."

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