The Poor Developer - a short story
The Poor Developer
Vijay was holding his breath as scanned the latest update of the National Advertisement Index to see if there was any increase in the ad revenue from his webpage. But alas, it had actually dropped down a few thousand rupees since last year. Time stood still for a few seconds as the impact of this result slowly seeped in. Horrific scenes played out in his mind - the Internet guy will threaten to confiscate the house because the bills have not been paid, the local ad agency won't give any more credit unless he agrees to increased interest rates. His best friends and relatives can't help him because they were all stuck in the same morass. Would he have to pawn more of his wife's jewels?
As he closed the browser and looked out of the window, he wondered about the promises of the friendly MLA who had assured him that his portal would be a hit. After all, the Government had fixed fair ad rates for every kind of webpage. It was even illegal for all the developers to enter the entertainment segment, at the expense of utility services like email, list servers and blogging. But he instinctively knew he had to hang on to his portal. No force on earth could sever the bond between a developer and his site. In fact, this sacred relationship was codified in law, and the Government had lots of safeguards to preserve it forever. "This too shall pass", he thought as he was lulled into sleep by the stream of soft music from the computer.
The sickly heat woke him up. The power cut had stopped both the fan and the computer. Though every developer was entitled to free electricity, the quality was not good enough to host a large server farm. That required lots of personal investment. Instead, most people chose to focus on low bandwidth, low storage based services. He envied the developers in his neighbouring state who received top notch power for most of the day. That allowed them to garner a large share in the domestic video sharing market. He had read that foreign companies offered unlimited upload capacity at throw away prices - something unimaginable in his own country. Luckily, these giant corporations were not allowed to use their money and muscle power to overthrow individual Indian developers from the market. Moreover, some of their software relied on genetic algorithms, which were still untested and could cause irrevocable harm to users' data if they went out of control.
He was now resigned to spending one more dark, bleak evening with the family. He decided he would break the news to them only the next day. He turned to the newspaper for solace. The plight of developers was not ignored by the country at large. In fact, political leaders across the spectrum were extending their greatest support morally and economically. Today there was a slew of measures announced in the light of dismal revenues last year. From a speech by the Minister of IT:
"We shall waive all pending loans on purchase of server equipment by small developers. An Advertisement Oversight Committee will be set up to revise advertisement rates for all categories of portals. Ad agencies will not be allowed to charge more than 12% on any transaction and this will be strictly enforced. The best Indian IDE's will be provided at highly subsidised rates for faster development. Training centres will be set up all over India to educate the small, individual developers on modern ideas in software engineering."
Some economists were not satisfied and suggested deeper structural reforms in the developer market like easing entry for non-developers and even foreign corporates. Restrictions which made it hard for developers to renounce their age-old profession should also be removed. Others argued that this could uproot millions of Indians who could not switch overnight to newer domains like genetics, tele-medicine or space tourism. They might just end up doing menial jobs instead.
Vijay did not understand the various theories about the Indian developer sector. But his own problems were very real. He closed his eyes and prayed for deliverance.