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« The power of habit | Main | The Tolstoy Rule »

The ever-worsening curse of the cog

Our story so far:

Since you were five, schools and society have been teaching you to be a cog in the machine of our economy. To do what you're told, to sit in straight lines and to get the work done.

In the early factory era, there was great demand for trained cogs, the cogs even had unions, and cog work was steady, consistent and respected. There were way worse things than coghood.

Over the last decade or two, that's all gone away. I found this via Gizmodo: dottocomu: Clocking on with King Jim's QR code clock and it's a perfect symptom of what I'm talking about. It's a clock that puts up the time in a camera-readable format, making it easy for the factory supervisor to automate time in and time out via cell phones.

More important than the device itself is the thought pattern it represents:
1. cog labor is a lowest-common denominator activity
2. if cog labor gets expensive, automate it
3. if you can't afford to do that, move it somewhere where it's cheaper
4. if your competition does that, figure out how to measure and semi-automate your cog labor to make it cheaper still

The end result is that it's essentially impossible to become successful or well off doing a job that is described and measured by someone else.

Worth reading the italics twice, I think.

The only chance our country (your country, depends where you live), your economy and most of all, your family has to get ahead is this: make up new rules.

People who make up new rules continue to be in very short supply.

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« The power of habit | Main | The Tolstoy Rule »