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Laurent Bossavit-Rise of the Digital Hussars?

Are you yearning to write software that really matters to your users, software that does more than line corporate pockets and all too often turn into soul-grinding work? If that is what software craftsmanship means to you, I have an unusual proposition - work for the French government.

For most of you, government innovation probably sounds like an oxymoron. At best the words sound like an incongruous combination, like fish and chocolate. In the 2010 O'Reilly book Open Government Matthew Burton wrote: 'In recent years, the government has become almost completely dependent upon contractors for information technology (IT). So deep is this dependency that the government has found itself in a position that may shock those in the tech industry: it has no programmers of its own; code is almost entirely outsourced. (...) On top of keeping the government from innovating, the dependence on contractors hurts the country in much more tangible ways.'

This was written about the US government but applies equally well to France. Burton went on that the most skilled developers could be persuaded, out of a sense of civic aspiration, to lend governments these skills for a tour of duty. France, it turns out, is one of the countries to have recognized this as a great idea: we call it the State Startups, in French Startups d'Etat.

That may sound like yet another oxymoron. This talk is to convince you, in a short time so as not to risk boring anyone, that fish actually tastes good with chocolate - to entice you to try your hand at being a digital Hussar.

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