Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A long rant I've been working on for a few days :

ThoughtStorms: AutomatingMechanicalJobs/AnswerToVlad


John Powers said...

I should try to get some sort of response together for this thread at Tribe. But a couple of thoughts here.

You posted Paul Graham's article on procrastination. It was fun that article got passed around in the blogoshpere--or whatever. Graham distinquishes three type of procrastination; instead of doing the work you're supposed to be doing you: a) do nothing, b) do something less important, or c) do something more important.

I'm a world class procrastinator so I'm expert in all three. Graham singles out type b procrastination as the worst. And who's to argue doing something more important rather than less is better? Call me a contrarian.

Feral Scholar has been Engels & Gender. I tend to like Commies, but I never had the fortitude for the amount of work involved in being Marxist myself. So I'm sure I missed an awful lot in Feral's commentary.

I was reminded of Ivan Illich's book "Gender" In the book Illch discusses the "shadow" economy, I think somewhere he cals it "gray" along side the black market.

Much of what counts as the gray economy are tasks that fit pretty well with Graham's idea of noxious errands. They are also the sorts of activities that are not going to be easily automated away.

The reason why, you nailed straight on the head: "ultimately, there are a couple of things which can't be automated away : *human attention* and *responsibility*."

Illich makes the point that shadow work is increasingly becomming gender neutral, but thinks that women will always get screwed in the deal.

>Faced by the evidence of its consistent failure to createequality between the sexes, we might now entertain a look overlooked possibility: The paradigm of Homo oeconomicus does not aquare with what mean and women actually are. Perhaps they cannot be reduced to humans, to economic neuters of either male or female sex. Economic existence and gender might be literally incomparable.<

You write:"Fun, creative stuff will go amateur. People will get paid for the dull, repetitive supervision of the machines."

Your whole discussion about amateurization is quite smart, but in some ways depressing.

However, quite tentatively, I consider alternative and complimentary currencies could play a role in mitigating the poverty of dull existence.

Currencies are a way to quantify some of the work in the gray economy. This is very important if all the fun work is going to be there.

Errands are important work, especially those errand that bring beauty and pleasure to our lives. It's trite but true, like Mom's apple pie.

Your work with social networks is so important in this too, because right from the beginning attention and responsibility are the imporant factors.

John Powers said...

Opps, I hit "publish" when I meant to "preview."

One final thing. "How are you going to keep 'em down on the farm?" is an increasingly important question for so many across the globe. In China there's a need to slow the inmigration to cities; and in much of Africa villiage settlement patterns seem more in accord with the environment.

My hunch is that a part of the answer is in making more rural areas rich in the shaddow economic sphere. Alternative curriencies could be very useful in this.

Composing said...

Interesting how you've tied these "types of work" to Graham's "types of procrastination"

Hadn't thought of that.

Totally agree on the alt.currencies thing. Including the point that it can find an slot for artistic, creative work.

I can see a lot of hand-crafts for example being exchanged in barter or sold for a local money which is capable of buying locally produced food etc.

Must read Illich (have an unfinished copy of Tools for Conviviality looking at me accusingly on my shelf.)