26 April 2009

le piège des pigistes


Technology has made my job and millions of others, possible. It’s become a trap for many who live off contract work like me.

One thing we have the advantage over a big company for example, is we can usually crank out projects in record time. A big department of designers/artists will almost always be slower as there are a lot more people to satisfy. As a contractor you usually only need to satisfy the clients you dealing with. The other advantage is also the trap. The technology we use to get it done so fast.

Many bigger companies wait until 3 versions and many years have past before they finally shell out a huge amount to upgrade their software or hardware, all at once. Contractors depend on those upgrades to keep ahead of the competition. More efficient software and hardware saves time and for an hourly contractor, time is literally money. So, oddly, the people with the least money buy the most expensive stuff to stay competitive while the big boys who can well afford regular upgrades do it in big chunks and are always years behind what can be done technically. Of course some places keep up to date but that’s not exactly common. On any project I work on alone, the client gets very up to date features and functions older versions didn’t have while almost every time I work with an established partner business, I have to hope I have an old version to re-install (or in some cases I have buy the old one again) and try to make up for the lack of functionality I’ve come to expect for the last 2 or 3 years. Yet they land the big and more important, stable clients. Seems unfair, and it is, but that’s the world we live in.

So if we don’t keep up, we lose our edge and if we do.. we stay poor. I often wonder if suddenly, Behemoth became one of those huge companies with 100’s of artists working for it... would I still insist on staying so up to date and would that be avoiding one trap, for another? And as tech loving geeks.. do we want to escape in the first place?
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