One of my friends had a baby girl this week, which naturally raises the question of what kind of world she can expect to inhabit. I didn't know this until I had my first son, but parenting is the strongest act of optimism you can ever commit. You're placing a bet on the state of the world for the next century and taking the over on peace and prosperity. I'm a practicing pessimist, so that realization gave me the heebie-jeebies. If my friend's newborn develops an interest in computer science, engineering or another ... read more

The inventor of the captcha just received a $500,000 MacArthur Genius Grant: Luis von Ahn, 28, computer scientist, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Von Ahn, who was born in Guatemala, helped develop CAPTCHA, a test used on many commercial Web sites to determine whether the user is human. He also devised Google Image Labeler, a game in which two Internet users tag images in real time and are rewarded for using the same tag. A little over a month ago, von Ahn gave a very entertaining talk on the Google ... read more

All of the talk about last week's BlogHer conference reminded me of an effort I began last December to add overlooked female technologists to Wikipedia. In a discussion with Shelley Powers, I said that the encyclopedia is one area where gender disparity is easy to rectify. Someone just has to take the time to write comprehensive, neutral biographies that will pass muster with the site's editors. A person's presence in Wikipedia tends to attract new bios for people of similar background and relative fame, as you ... read more

I've taken Workbench back from Vivek Seal. I appreciate his efforts -- especially considering some of the abuse he took -- but remain unsold on the notion that outsourcing is beneficial to Americans. Seal's clear on the fact that it helps India, of course, but the most he offers us is a platitude that's laid on downsized employees all the time -- you ought to develop skills for another job that'll make you more valuable: I know many jobs are being lost but there are many new jobs which are being created. A person ... read more

I am really excited to blog on an issue which is so dear to my heart. Beforehand I must tell you that I have seen this industry from all the angles, I was a CCE in Convergys India (Gurgaon) and was working in a UK process so I have the real floor experience, then I worked as a feature writer for India's national daily The Pioneer and tried to analyze the ill-effects of outsourcing, like aping Western culture, sleeping disorders (insomnia and bad health) etc. If that was not enough many Indian Left parties were ... read more

For the next week, I've outsourced this weblog to Vivek Seal, 23, a technology reporter for Global Services in New Delhi, India. Seal recently posted a comment here touting the benefits of outsourcing: If a person from Bangalore is able to do a job in less than half the cost and with more efficiency then that rationally a best thing for all the parties around it. No matter what. ... All I wanna say is give India a chance to improve this world. We hear a lot of dire statements in the U.S. about how our jobs ... read more

Vivek Seal, a technology journalist in India who writes for Global Services Media, has posted a comment on Workbench addressing American critics of outsourcing: I am a reporter from India and cover outsourcing scenario. I have few points for you people to get the exact picture and then make your conclusions about sourcing McDonalds customer care business to India: We do not have call centers using Skype to interact with the US or European customers. There are dedicated fiber optical lines with the apt bandwith for ... read more