Anyone who says “complexity is free” is officially a jackass..

It’s official – Thomas Friedman is a jackass.  Plain and simple.  His latest op-ed in the New York Times “When Complexity is Free” is dissertation in total lunacy  from a man who obviously understands nothing about engineering, science or the discovery process.

Has GE ever heard of actually HIRING engineers and designers?

In the article Friedman gushes over the commoditization of engineering when he discusses how wonderful it is to not have to hire designers or engineers but rather to simply outsource a major design issue to the world at large in the guise of a “contest”.

That’s right, rather than hiring the required engineers,  General Electric (GE)  created  “The GE Engine Bracket Challenge” which was offered up to the world.  Talent was “invited” to submit their engineering plans for the new bracket.  There would be a “prize” for the top entries:  $20,000 divided among the top 8 entries.  WOW! how generous of them.  Sadly, there were 697 companies, graduate students, designers and individuals desperate enough to answer this cattle call.

I placed a response to the op-ed article.  I have no idea whether it will be published, but rather than re-editorialize the response I will place it below:

Complexity is NOT free, it never was free and it never will be free…

Let’s call a spade a spade. This is simply a cattle call to highly skilled, highly educated engineers and designers that have been marginalized by current economic conditions.

The education required to design the bracket wasn’t “free”. The years of experience that made them capable of improving such a component wasn’t “free”. The time and energy and gray matter it took to create the 697 versions of the bracket should never, ever be “free”. Just compensation needs to be commensurate with the time, training, and talent required to create such a product. That effort represents the knowledge base, education base and experience of 697 people and GE has the audacity to award a piddling $20k to be divided among the “winners”? Why don’t we simply call this type of exploitation legalized “theft” and call it a day?

Commoditization of these professions ensures their demise along with the knowledge base that went with them. Who is going to pay for or take the time for an advanced degree in engineering when the compensation is in burger flipper territory – if there IS any compensation at all?

As for Thomas Friedman, perhaps he might understand what I am talking about if writers that haven’t had a new idea in about 10 years were given their walking papers from their regular columns and incomes and told to submit their op-eds in the form of a “challenge” along with 700 other “contestants”.

Just a P.S. – The comment on the NY Times site became an editors pick.  I guess because of that boost, I got over 300 “recommends” on the site.

© 2013 – RGHicks –