Intro to "The Economics of Software Development"

Economics was one of my favorite subjects in high school and college. Back before I made the career switch to software engineers, I would imagine the sweet “what ifs” of majoring in Econ instead of Education.

I was (and am) fascinated by economics as the study of decision making. Whether you prefer to put that in terms of “scarcity” and “resources” is up to you. For me, it’s about analyzing “why” we do the things that we do.

You can take that analytical spotlight and shine it on monetary policy or production, which is probably what most people think of when they hear “economics.”

But increasingly economists have been looking at other aspects of life, giving birth to the field of behavioral economics. Freakonomics, the book and radio program, is the most popular example of this field of study, but you may have heard of other examples from Richard Thaler or Daniel Kahneman.

When NPR’s Planet Money announced a “Summer School” series focusing on key economics concepts, I was intrigued. Here was the perfect invitation to do a little bit of analytical thinking of my own.

With the release of each episode of “Planet Money Summer School,” I’m going to respond by taking that lens and the concepts and focus them on the practice of software development.

I’m not interested in the business of software development, but rather the decisions that I and other developers make in building websites and applications. In other words: why we do the things that we do (and what we can do about it)!

I hope you’ll find this series interesting, even if it’s just to crack your knuckles and tell me how I have it all wrong.

Happy learning!

About

Sean McPherson

My name is Sean McPherson (SeanMcP), and I am a software engineer and educator in Pittsburgh, PA. I have given conference talks, lead workshops, and organized meetups. Here I write articles about programming for developers of all levels.