Re: Volunteers and paid staff

From: Arthur Keller <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Thu May 27 2004 - 12:28:34 CDT

At 4:42 PM +0000 5/27/04, Liam Helmer wrote:
>On Thu, 2004-05-27 at 08:25, David Mertz wrote:
>> On May 26, 2004, at 4:51 PM, Arthur Keller wrote:
>> > From a project management perspective, I can't promise to accomplish
>> > something in a given time frame if I am relying on volunteers. I
>> > must rely on paid staff (including students) who report to me. The
>> > fact that the original schedule for EVM2003 was to give a demo in
>> > October, or at least in 2003, and the demo did not occur until April
>> > 2004, suggests that my risk management is prudent. I hope that
>> > clarifies things.
>> I guess everyone has their own experiences... but I've never worked on
>> a commercial or academic project that was ONLY six month late. Nothing
>> ever works, and paying people doesn't seem to change this fact, in my
>> judgment. We'll see... I have more confidence in informally organized,
>> self-selected volunteers worldwide creating good software than I do of
>> Arthur's students doing so on TA stipends. And I also think that
>> methodologies kill projects.
>
>It's not a matter of paying people or not... it's a matter of those
>people having enough time that they're able to spend on the project! And
>paying people can certinaly help them put other matters aside. However,
>in my experience, it doesn't always guarantee them putting other matters
>aside, especially if it's not theier primary job.

I envision the UC project being led by full-time professional
managers, most of whom will be hands on. Those people, for the most
part, won't have other work to do.

>The bottom line is that unrealistic goals in software projects won't be
>met. Most software projects have unrealistic goals, because building
>good software is still a very fiddly and time-consuming process. Many
>programmers think only about the time to write the code... when the
>debugging, QA, and actual implementation of it in a real conext is what
>takes the most work.

Agreed.

>Also, unless TA stipends are larger in the US than Canada I'd have to
>say that it's dubious whether that qualifies as being paid :)

Actually, they will be GSR (Graduate Student Research) stipends as
well as undergraduate internships. While some of the GSRs will be
PhD students, most of them will be masters students. They'll be able
to devote the 20 hours per week that we pay them. We do recognize
that certain times of the year (midterms and finals), they do less
work. On the other hand, summer is a great time for work done (the
students are full-time), so I'm hoping to get the project funded by
the time summer starts.

I've had good success getting software developed by undergraduate
students who received college credit for independent study courses in
return. For example, I led a team of 4 students who developed a
secure, reliable, distributed do-not-spam registry that was
subsequently licensed to a company. The students are receiving up
front cash and some stock, and I'm receiving stock. We just filed a
patent on the technology.

Best regards,
Arthur

-- 
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Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Mon May 31 23:18:09 2004

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