Economic Revolution: Power to the Working Man
Economic revolution has occurred many times, and brought us to our modern consumer capitalism. If the system survives, economic revolution will also bring us out.
Note: This post originally appeared back in September of 2012, but was removed as incomplete two or three months ago. Well, it’s back and it’s done, I hope you enjoy it.
Mass production changed the game so that the producers of goods were generally unskilled laborers who followed established procedures to make the same things again and again, and management became required in order to coordinate the orchestra. Distribution networks became larger and larger until they became global, and then it became most prudent to use unskilled laborers to move the goods and to oversee them with the introduction of a new layer of management. Both of these required large investments, and so became the province of large corporations, creating executives of companies with the highest paying jobs and a hierarchical department structure consisting of managers, skilled laborers, and unskilled laborers. Mass production created an economic revolution towards peons working for management.
The information age, or if you prefer the age of networking, has changed the game for those who produce goods that can reproduced electronically. Now the individual author or artist, designer or developer, can create a single version of something that can be mass produced without a factory and distributed via the Internet rather than through a custom-developed distribution network. For small things, a book or an album, a website design or a website script, there’s now no need for executives, managers, or even a team of people to be involved. Companies dedicated to these kinds of products must shift focus to only those facets of the products that cannot be produced by an individual if they exist – which they do not for most goods that can be reproduced electronically, such as books, music, and design. For programming there are still large projects that must be accomplished by a team of developers, such as MMORPGs and large enterprise systems. However, that’s just a matter of where we happen to be now. Over time, the tools available to individual developers will become robust enough that even such large systems can be made by an individual, and until that time open-source teams will collaborate to destroy the proprietary, closed, executive-driven business model of commercial development.
People who are skilled in specific production tools are the artisans and craftsman of our day, and like their precursors their roles are temporary in the long view. The difficulty of a production system creates a niche by introducing a barrier of learning and ability. Graphic programs like Photoshop are difficult because they are not intuitive, and eventually they’ll be replaced with electronic approaches to art that are simpler and remove the barriers so that anyone and everyone will be a graphic artist. Everyone will be a musician. Everyone will be a programmer. This’ll happen with everything that can be reproduced electronically.
We’re just getting underway with 3D printing and the technology is still primitive and expensive. When the ability for individuals to “print” real tangible objects based on blueprints that can be reproduced electronically is realized, the industrialist companies who have not been affected by the age of networking will finally begin to fade. There won’t be any need for factories and distribution networks outside of the Internet; everything will be reproducible electronically. New technological professionals will rise up to harness this new technology is all of its obscureness and strangeness, and then it’ll become easier and commonplace, and that generation of technological professionals will transition out as everyone becomes product designers as well. The baseline of commerce will come back to rest purely on raw materials that are needed to feed the 3D printers.
Technology will eventually destroy executive and management positions and erase the distinction between skilled and unskilled laborers. Complicated concepts necessary for advanced engineering will become basic education, and the systems won’t presume that you understand how something works – if you’re interested, the system will teach you. Just as you can currently watch advanced topics in higher education online and for free, the proprietary and advanced knowledge that is the very identity of so many technicians will become freely available to any who care to learn. We won’t need companies as they currently exist, with their treatment of people as chess pieces, spoiling of the environment, and strategizing against consumers. We’ll need movements, with impassioned people advancing the human race. We won’t need executives and managers, we’ll need leaders and teachers. In this coming age of personal empowerment, people won’t be job positions and reward won’t be based on the judgement of those who have wealth. The world will be full of lifelong learners, and everything will boil down to individual capacity, enthusiasm, curiosity, and innovation.
Sounds good to me.
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