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Serious work

I'm currently reading Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky. I've checked it out from the library, so I can't highlight passages, but if I had my own copy of the book I would highlight the following sentence:

Life teaches us that motivations other than getting paid aren't enough to add up to serious work.

Clay Shirky's book is built around explaining how and why new organizational tools are changing the rules of who does what and why. I would probably be accused of self-aggrandizement and delusion if I described the C-Realm Podcast as "serious work," but the C-Realm Podcast archives hold together as something of lasting value in a way that nothing I ever earned a salary or a wage for doing has. Certainly more people have expressed their appreciation for this "work" than for anything I ever got paid to do.

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
ozarque
Sep. 26th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
Very good and useful book, IMHO.
davidfkane
Sep. 26th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
Seriously: - donate
Your work is serious and I have just made a donation. I am only sorry it's been so long.

kmo
Sep. 26th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Seriously: - donate
Thank you. I just addressed a Thank You card to you, but there was no postal code in the address listed with PayPal. If there's a postal code I can put on the envelope that will help the card reach you do send it to me via email. kmo@c-realm.com

Thanks, again.
l33tminion
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
Life teaches us that motivations other than getting paid aren't enough to add up to serious work.

And Shirky agrees with that point? Not just putting it out there to cut it down? I really need to get around to reading that book, it's been on my list for quite a while. (Of course, it's hardly the only book that's been on my list for quite a while...)

I recently read a book called Punished by Rewards that makes the opposite argument. Basically, the book argues that rewards and punishments are good ways of ensuring short-term compliance, but they have draining effects on intrinsic motivation that ultimately make people learn and do less (in terms of both quality and quantity). It was a very interesting read, and I feel it affected my perspective on a variety of issues.
kmo
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
And Shirky agrees with that point?
He presents it as the old conventional wisdom which is in the process of being re-invented.
l33tminion
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
That's what I expected.
peristaltor
Sep. 27th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
Y'know, I can relate with Shirky's assessment. I pursued electric vehicle technology for years, only to realize the limitations amassed against widespread implementation (a surprising few of them corporate plots). I'm right now weighing the costs and benefits as closely as possible before I take the next plunge in EVs.

When you have to pay to do something you value -- anything, really, as long as it is unique to you and not widespread in society -- one either gets more or less dedicated one continues the pursuit as long as one can literally afford to continue.
mungojelly
Oct. 6th, 2008 04:02 am (UTC)
thanks for the tip kmo.. clay shirkey is cool.. i watched this video, he makes some good points.. basically he was saying that there's a huge "cognitive surplus" (the time people used to spend just watching TV) and that we should expect more and more of that energy to be redirected to constructive activity.

My prediction is that we'll see even more time and resources freed up than that! The rewards of television are minimal; the competition was just a blank wall for a few decades, which is Clay's basic point. People were bored, depressed, crazy, and so they tuned into a hypnosis box to soothe themselves. It's not just that activity that's being mined. Other parts of people's lives are being mined too (for instance the downtime at people's jobs is turning into surfing porn, reportedly). The internet is better at fulfilling people's needs than television in numerous ways, so we should expect its penetration into people's attention to be even deeper. I think the bottom is very deep. (And I suppose there's every reason to expect we'll get there via a series of precipitous drops!)

There's also this unexamined attitude in all of the discussions of this transformation of people's attention, which is that the fire will politely stay away from the old-fashioned normal economy. Food and shelter, for instance. I think the logic in most people's head about why the revolution isn't going to touch those basic things is more emotional than rational: Food and shelter are real and substantial and basic. A world where people are fed by something other than going out and buying food at a supermarket, by something other than capitalism as we understand it, is obviously a fundamentally different world where people act with different priorities. But there are already plenty of events organized online that incidentally involve food distribution-- snacks at the meeting-- and I fully expect that to escalate as well. The task of distributing food is primarily an organizational task, and there's no reason to believe that it won't be done more effectively by collective intelligence than by the old economics.

I believe there will be a point at which people will realize that the new economy is actually capable of doing the tasks the old economy did, and our attitude towards the transformation as a society will have to change. At the moment it's being treated as a toy, a side show, an amusing little game. It doesn't seem like such an irrelevant trifle if you're in the media business, but most people aren't. The old fashioned physical economy is very seriously not expecting anything. So when we swallow the pill of realizing that collective voluntary action might just actually fundamentally take over-- which if history is a guide will be just following the last possible moment that we could continue to collectively deny it-- we will have a lot of confusion and noise over the shift.

Fortunately, I think that a voluntary economy has a far better chance of surviving the later stages of the singularity than a market economy. It doesn't repeatedly reward irrationality with nearly the same obliviousness! But the shifts themselves, and the emotional fallout in the humans who'll have to try to digest each one of them, those are tough. Like Clay says about the people in the beginning of the industrial revolution hitting the gin: Fundamental change simultaneously to everything in your life is a stressful experience!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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