I’m suspect I’m not alone here in that:
- I feel very concerned about ‘sustainability’ issues such as climate change, biodiversity collapse, resources exhaustion and land degradation, to the point that I’d like to orient my career towards working on those issues.
- Using Clojure is one of the most impactful ways of working that I know how to do.
Therefore, I think it would be beneficial a form a community of Clojurians on this topic, in particular for job-matching.
More details below. Please let me know what you think, and invite others to do so!
What I have in mind
- An online community for sustainability-oriented work in Clojure, e.g a subreddit;
- offering a curation of companies, jobs listing, OS projects, general discussions, and maybe career advice;
- where the impact of the various companies and initiatives can be discussed, critically and anonymously.
Here are some imagined examples of posted topics:
- [Introduction] CompanyX builds a data platform for planning renewable electricity production based on geographic and historical consumption data.
- [Jobs] CompanyX is hiring a Senior full-stack Clojure Engineer.
- [Discussion] Given rebound effects, is it a good idea to work on optimizing Big Data hosting infrastructure and orchestration?
- [Career Advice] How much demand is there for GIS skills?
- [OS] A sci-based project for low-footprint automation workflows. Help wanted!
I don’t expect a high-throughput activity in such a community; email alerts would be useful.
Currently, sustainability-oriented work opportunities are diluted in many other jobs offers. They do exist, but are relatively few.
Conversely, sustainability-oriented companies may have difficulty targeting programmers who might be interested in them. All the more so because such companies are usually not the most competitive in terms of compensation, and because they might fruitfully target people who are not actively job-hunting.
Impact assessment and discussion
People apply to sustainability-oriented opportunities in the hope of having an impact. Unfortunately, sustainability initiatives often lead to uncertainty and controversy as to their impact.
For example, some people believe that electric vehicles, nuclear energy, or voluntary carbon markets have an important role to play in mitigating climate change, and that developing them is beneficial; others think it’s very dangerous and counter-productive to go down those roads, and don’t want to support those industries.
To make matters even more difficult, you might want to work for some initiative because you find it risky, and want to be there to keep things from going wrong in terms of impact.
There’s no objective process for making those judgements, and we shouldn’t aim to achieve consensus on them. However, this complexity calls for critical analysis and informative discussions about such opportunities, more so than with the usual job application.
For this reason, I think that discussions about impact will play an important role in such a community. Obviously, people might feel unsafe having a critical discussion about an opportunity they might apply to, especially if the employer is part of the conversation, and so it seems important to be able to comment anonymously.
Signaling demand for skills and OS contributions
What specialisations are most needed in the sustainability industry? Dataviz? Big Data? Geographic software? Frontend? It can be hard to tell, but having a centralised directory of sustainability-oriented companies could help us survey the demand.
Likewise, some people (like me) would be willing to spend much more time on OS work if they know it will have sustainability-oriented applications.
Remarkably, sustainability jobs are not a competition
In most job markets, applicants compete for the jobs’ benefits, and it’s understandable that they won’t help each other.
But remarkably, I don’t think this should be the case for sustainability, which is essentially a selfless goal that should have little to do with personal ambition: if some other programmer is better than me at “saving the planet”, I’m happy to step aside. (It’s not like those are the highest-paying jobs anyway).
What should qualify as sustainability-oriented?
It’s hard to give precise criteria, but let’s say companies or initiatives which main activity arguably consists of transforming the world in order to mitigate or adapt to issues like climate change, biodiversity collapse, resources exhaustion, land degradation, etc.
In particular, I think that having CSR policies or similar pledges should NOT be enough for companies to qualify, examples being:
- “We have a climate strategy, so I guess we’re sustainability-oriented”
- “At CorporationB, we think that sustainability is very important”
- “We take action to reduce the footprint of our computing infrastructure”
- “We have a culture of taking care of one-another”
- “We solve problems, therefore sustainability really resonates with us, as sustainability is about solving problems”
- “Our activity is not about sustainability per se, but we have strong diversity policies, so we’re good guys”
- “We make our customers more productive, giving them time and leverage to work on their sustainability issues”
- “We contribute to economic development, therefore we make the world a better place, which is what sustainability is about”
I’m not judging, nor am I saying that the above things are not valuable; they’re just not the characteristics we’re looking for here. This requirement for specificity is why I want the community to be about sustainability-oriented work, not the more vague sustainability.
We might also be tempted to generalise the sustainability theme to other important causes such as education, gender and minority inclusion, healthcare, poverty alleviation, online privacy, etc. Having thought about it, I don’t think that’s a good idea. A vague “Clojure for good” theme would harm the specificity that is essential to such a community, so I think it’s better to start with a narrow scope, and later either broaden it or create other similar sub-communities.
What platform for hosting such a community?
I’m thinking of Reddit, because it makes it easy enough to comment anonymously via throwaway accounts, which as mentioned above seems important for people to feel safe discussing opportunities they might apply to.
A flair on
r/Clojure might do the trick, but that approach could limit the searchability of content, and add a moderation burden to
I’ve also considered:
- ClojureVerse: no easy anonymity
- Zulip: same
- A Slack channel: too ephemeral. I’d expect the content to be of little volume, but of long-term use.
- A mailing list: anonymity is still not that easy (a new email address is required to create a throwaway account), and the discussion UI is typically not as good.
And so I’m thinking of creating another subreddit, e.g
r/ClojureSustainabilityWork, but please share any other idea you might have.
EDIT: please react with if you would join (even as a passive member).