Friday, July 31, 2009

The Age of Amateurs

Reviewing Chris Anderson's Free, Virginia Postrel writes:

But there are hints throughout the book that the future of this radical price is to be found in the past, when satisfying work was what one did on the income provided by less satisfying toil, or by investments, patronage or marriage. “Doing things we like without pay often makes us happier than the work we do for a salary,” Anderson writes, adding, “No wonder the Web exploded, driven by volunteer labor — it made people happy to be creative, to contribute, to have an impact and to be recognized as expert in something.”

I'd push Anderson's statement much farther. Some of us still work for the man, or whatever, but a much greater percentage of people now have careers that they love, and what they do for fun has a greater overlap with what they do for pay. Google's 20 percent rule is the most obvious case of this, but more generally this is reflected in the rise of flatter organizations built around collaborative innovation, or in some cases collective innovation. See Clay Shirky's excellent book for more on these topics. If we think of our salaried work and our "real" work in terms of a venn diagram, then the overlap has grown over time. While we are not yet to a single circle, that is the direction we are headed. Read the rest. Via Tim Kane.

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