[Baypiggies] Chompapps Position - from Issue 31

Dennis Reinhardt DennisR at dair.com
Fri Oct 30 02:47:54 CET 2009


At 12:00 AM 10/29/2009, resmith at runbox.com wrote:
>  But at what point did the person [one age] start to underperform 
> the another age?

As someone who has over 40 years of computer industry experience, I 
have been through this several times.  One point of diminished 
technical performance coincides with promotion into management.  Your 
scope widens while your specialty focus is lost.  I have found it 
necessary to re-invent myself several times.

The half-life of technical knowledge was thought to be 5 years some 
40 years ago.  I don't think it is even that long now.  Consider the 
topics of the last year's Baypiggies.  Are half the foundations of 
those talks over 5 years old ... or more like 18 months?  How old are 
the tools, files, and technologies you deal with.  Are half over 5 
years old? ... or less?

Technical work requires an ability to re-invent oneself.  For a new 
programmer, this is easier than one who has acquired habits since 
there is less to "un-invent".  Further, the university environment 
may provide access to recent tools and technologies, providing a 
familiarity advantage.

Old technical workers with, say 20 years experience, can have 4 
distinct careers of 5 years duration each or the same 5 year career 
repeated 4 times.  The one who has distinct careers would be a good 
bet to tackle a fifth new career.  The one who has repeated the same 
experience 4 times over, almost by definition is working in an area 
that is unchanging.  It is easy to pick up habits over time; some of 
them are beneficial but not necessarily all.

I can testify that age discrimination occurs at both ends of the age 
scale ... and pretty much everywhere in between.  People are 
constantly judging you against their internalized expectations.

Companies which advertise for "bright, young workers" or other ageist 
designations seem to me to be creating a social environment, not a 
business.  "Young" is not an output measure; it may be trying to meet 
other objectives ("cheap" heads my list).

My 2 cents, albeit ravaged by inflation over the years.

Dennis Reinhardt






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