Signs of the times: U.S. developer outsources his own job; bookless library system in the works

A couple of signs of the tech times, complete with the interesting and somewhat confusing issues that arise with what technology has wrought:

• For just a fifth of your six-figure salary, you too might be able to adopt your own worker in China and outsource your job. In case you haven’t heard,  a U.S. developer for an unknown company did just that while he still showed up at work and basically goofed around all day. At least that’s according to a Verizon security blog case study published earlier this week, which also suggested the worker may have pulled the same thing off at other companies. Call it revenge of the nerd, or perhaps giving a U.S. company a taste of its own outsourcing medicine, that eventually backfired. Of course, he no longer works at the company.

Verizon was asked to look into unusual virtual private network activity at a “U.S. critical infrastructure company” and found that the VPN credentials of an employee who was sitting at his desk in the office was being used by somebody in China — daily. It turns out the 40-something “family man” whose performance reviews identified him “as the best developer in the building” was surfing Reddit, eBay, Facebook and watching cat videos from 9 to 5 but not doing any real work. The outsourcing cost him about $50,000 a year, according to Verizon.

• Next, we have the planned opening of a bookless public library system in San Antonio, Texas, in the fall. Yes, French speakers, it is called BiblioTech, and the first branch will be a place where patrons can read and browse on laptops and tablets, and check out e-readers. The desired effect: “Think Apple store,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff reportedly said.

A library without books has been tried before, according to San Antonio Express-News. In 2002, a Tucson, Ariz., library branch did it but had books return about five years later at the request of area residents. Bexar’s countywide effort is believed to be the first in the nation.

The director of the San Rafael (California) Public Library, calls the whole thing “premature.” Sarah Houghton tells NPR there are three reasons libraries shouldn’t be completely bookless yet: Some people still prefer paper books; the potential cost of needing staff available to help the technologically challenged learn how to use e-readers; and “your selection of best-sellers and popular media just went down the toilet because 99 percent of that is not available to libraries digitally.”



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  • Markus Unread

    As long as greedy publishers like Harper Collins make their e-books expire after a small number of sign-outs from the library, I’ll be supporting paper books. Also, if they insist on charging as much or more for an e-book I’ll be happy to buy the paper book, read it, and donate it to the public library.