Wanted: Talented, Motivated Software Engineer for the Rebellion or Galactic Empire

the death star floating in space. with uncommitted code
There was uncommitted code on that death star…

I love Technology, Innovation and Experimentation. As a software engineer on an Agile team (by day), I feel fortunate that I get to practice those in a professional setting.

And of course, I love Star Wars. Not that the two go together. But my guess is there must to be some sort of correlation between them. There needs to be studies on this.

Technology, Innovation, Experimentation = T.I.E. Or TIE. As in TIE Fighters.

Which got me to thinking a little bit. As a technologist who appreciates innovation and experimentation, in the Star Wars universe, which side would I be on? Of course, it’s easy to say the rebellion, because they were the “good” guys, and everyone wants to be looked upon in some respects as the good guy. Sure, it’s fun to play the bad guy, but to be the bad guy for real? Or aligned with the bad guys? That’s another story.

While it’s true that history is written by the victors (the rebellion in some timelines or stories, Empire in others), we all hold our nose and do our “jobs” so to speak even though we might not necessarily agree with what our government or employer does all the time.

So…I come back to the question. Which side would I be on? Or more to the point, which side would I WORK on? Assuming there is an ad for a software engineer with the Empire. (Or Rebellion) Why don’t recruiters try to sell me on these jobs? Screw Amazon. 

Money – Empire is where it’s at

The Empire pays, and would probably pay well – even if it is by overtaxing, extortion, racketeering, war, plundering, private donors, etc. The rebellion pays too, though definitely not as much. And their source of income is probably much of the same – war, racketeering, good old-fashioned stealing from the Empire, private benefactors. Do they both pay in credits? Or is there a different monetary system we have to account for here?

Software Engineers, we want to get PAID what we believe we’re worth.

Empire: 1, Rebellion: 0

Software Engineering & Star Wars Technology

There is little doubt in my mind that the Empire, with vastly superior access to the resources of other star systems and wads of cash would be able to adopt and develop the best technology out there. And with their copious amounts of wealth they could easily hire the best technologists to work on developing the best technology out there.

Developing huge star destroyers (super mega battleships and “aircraft”…or…space fighter carriers) capable of delivering a devastating blow to enemies AND be able to travel at light speed without harming the structure of the ship, its contents or inhabitants? Damn. Creating fighters, patrol ships, bombers, etc. that are incredibly maneuverable, fast, and accurate in a trained pilot’s hands? Wow. Not even mentioning the ability to engineer a weapon that destroys planets.

At least 3 times.

The rebellion simply cannot match the Empire in terms of technology. They are relegated to older slower ships that have to be upgraded and retrofitted. If parts break down, good luck finding a replacement without taking it from another somewhat working ship. You see and read about this time and time again. And that is part of the storyline which makes the films and stories so good. Its David vs Goliath. The underdog in every way against a superior enemy, especially in technology.

My conscience says there’s something about this Rebellion. But come on. Let’s be realistic. It’s like working as a software engineer for a company that develops cloud based scalable infrastructure vs its competitor that is still trying to migrate from Windows XP. Who would you work for?

That’s not a difficult question to answer…

Empire: 2, Rebellion: 0

Innovation in software & application

Now we come to Innovation. This is an interesting one for a software engineer. Access to the best tech doesn’t necessarily make you innovative. It’s also partially what you do with it and how you extend it.

I think there is pressure to innovate from the Empire – as your perspective employer. Your performance evaluation probably depends on it. That’s a lot of pressure. Would you feel the freedom to innovate under the circumstances? It’s hard to say on a general scale. It’s probably like anything else in that it depends on your team. If your team or manager would allow you to innovate or give you that creative freedom, then you could truly thrive and innovate away.

Of course, maybe I have it all wrong up to this point. What if the Empire simply used its wealth to BUY tech and build upon it or innovate using the tech they bought? Its buy vs build. Yes, they built the Death Star (using contractors no doubt), but it was using components and tech they bought from high tech firms. So as a technologist working for the Empire you would be developing and building on these platforms. Not unlike a lot of tech jobs today.

Now the rebellion, oh man, you are 100% innovating. You can’t stop, because your life literally depends on it. Need a part? Find it. Can’t find it? Make it or a replacement. Old tech doesn’t work – make it work because hundreds of people are depending on you. Need to survive on some hostile planet that is borderline inhospitable? Bring your thinking cap. A lot of pressure, yes, but no doubt you will innovate like crazy.

I can’t call a winner on this one, so credit to both.

Empire: 3, Rebellion: 1

Experimentation – do the rebels have more fun?

I thought this would be more difficult but after some thought there is a clear advantage here for one side.

On the surface, the Empire might seem a good fit for experimentation. Best tech? Check. Money? Oh yeah. Sounds great. But the pressure of things simply working (seamless integration anyone?) and never failing otherwise there will be punishment seems like the experiment approach would be frowned upon.

Could you imagine an engineer saying “Um, well I don’t know if the Death Star has that much power to blow up a planet that size…perhaps we should try something smaller first? Like an old ship or frigate?” Yeah, you’d be force choked. Doesn’t really seem to me the Empire is big on experimentation, and what comes with that, failure and learning from mistakes. In fact, there is proof they are really bad at that.

On that same point…let’s face it – they clearly didn’t test either Death Star. Someone missed that on peer review. What did they do for the second one? Oh! Let’s close the small exhaust port…and in its place let’s make a bigger tunnel so you could fly ships to the core. Yeah. Good idea.

The rebellion, on the other hand. All they do is try stuff out and see what happens. They have no idea if their plans will work. We think that if we fire at this port, we can blow it up. But we don’t know for sure. Let’s do it anyway! If we fail, we’ll try again some other way. What have we got to lose! We’re already 98% screwed! Having your back against the wall all the time is exhausting mentally and physically, but it definitely breeds creativity and experimentation.

Empire: 3, Rebellion: 2

I guess I could have come up with an odd number of items, but even if I did the best the rebellion could do would tie the Empire in terms of tech work desirability.

Was DJ, the hacker from Star Wars, really that bad?
So come on…can you really blame him for the choice he made?

The verdict? Empire…or Rebellion?

So, I guess I’m taking that job as a software engineer with the Empire. I’ll have access to the best tech in the galaxy, get paid well, probably work 10-12 hour days. Living the Galactic dream.

What about you?

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