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CEOs should follow NBA and make geeks wear real clothes

Put your pants on, coders! Grow up!

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And ninethly Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society - Mark Twain

The collision of professional sports and IT tends to embarrass both camps. It happens most often with techie advertisements surrounding sporting events. Or sometimes you'll see a jock with an iPod or BlackBerry in hand. Conversely, you could find uber-dweebs at the Googleplex imitating people with coordination during a twisted game of roller hockey or pin the tail on the donkey.

Like I said - embarrassing stuff.

This blushing past provides all the more reason for geeks to take note of the NBA's (National Basketball Association) recent actions. And I'll tell you why.

The NBA's Commissioner's office has instituted a controversial dress code for athletes. They must wear business casual attire at any NBA or team-related function. No more sweat suits, T-shirts, 'do-rags or bling on the outside of clothing. The millionaire jocks must look like respected members of society instead of moronic thugs, which most of them really are.

Many of the thugs complained about this policy, saying it would no longer allow them to look like thugs. They have thuggish clothing lines to promote and need to stay in touch with their inner-thug. If the NBA wanted such a policy, it should pay for the business casual clothes, some of the thugs said. (Damn straight. Let's order up some Wal-Mart khakis and shirts for the boys and see who wears them.)

Without question, there's a massive, racial aspect to the dress code. Few white guys wear 'do-rags unless they are real hard asses whereas tons of black dudes wear them. Even pansy black guys wear them and get away with it. This is standard attire. But I don't really care about the racial implications. I care about the example this policy should set for the IT world.

IT executives could share a rare moment of equality and mutual understanding - a level playing field, if you will - with the sporting community on this dress code issue. For once, us geeks wouldn't look like tools but rather normal members of a functioning society full of sports, art and other types of normal entertainment, if we adopt a similar plan.

IT leaders need to demand that their software developers, engineers and administrators adhere to an industry-wide dress code.

That's right. No more sandals. No more T-shirts. No more bellies hanging over belts. No more jeans. No more grease-covered khakis. No more stained underarms. No more lame-ass bluetooth headsets. No more cell phones attached to belts. No more drool dripping down the sides of mouthes. No more pizza in the back pocket. No more Cokes attached to the face. No more two-week-old stench. In short, no more slovenly swine.

For too many years, geeks have been abusing their roots as antisocial miscreants who could do things normal people couldn't do. Companies needed computer work done and would tolerate these freaks roaming around data centers. Do not poke the geek because he may ruin you if make him angry.

Today, guys like Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy and that loser Tim O'Reilly still embrace this mentality. They're businessmen of the highest caliber and run around in jeans and sweaters. This makes people way down on the totem pole think that sandals, torn jeans and KISS T-shirts will suffice as proper work attire.

Not true. Not anymore.

Quite frankly, I'll happily cheer a room full of Indians who just took your jobs - if they're well-dressed. There's a certain dignity to outsourcing. It's called a tie.

I challenge proprietary software makers to exploit their edge here. You've already got the more businesses-minded, grownup coders working for you. Go ahead and require them to shape up or start learning to train their Polish replacements. Microsoft can get every developer on staff into a tie by yearend with this policy. Windows Vista? Forget it. Institute a no Cheetos stain on the face program first.

And how great will this look for Microsoft when it must compete against the likes of Red Hat or IBM's open source squadron. You can't begin to convince me that any German city would pick Linux over Microsoft again with such a dress code in place.

No the "open source community" - whatever that means - smells and looks worse than any other software "community" on the planet, and it's time they paid for their lack of respect. It's not cool to be filthy anymore. No one thinks software developers are that neato or unusual. Anyone can junk out some Python or Perl garbage.

Face the facts, dweebs. It's time to abandon your sloppy, pathetic ways and buy some real man's working clothes. Otherwise, it's "Hello, China" where we can get a man in a vest to crank code. ®

Otto Z. Stern is a director at The Institute of Technological Values - a think tank dedicated to a more moral digital age. He has closely monitored the IT industry's intersection with America's role as a world leader for thirty years. You can find Stern locked and loaded, corralling wounded iLemmings, nursing an opal-plated prostate, wearing a smashing suit, spitting on Frenchmen, vomiting in fear with a life-sized cutout of Hilary Rosen at his solar-powered compound somewhere in the Great American Southwest.

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