One of the little-remembered innovations of the industrial economy was the price tag.
If it was for sale, you knew how much it cost.
And if you got a job, you knew what you got paid--by the piece, at first, and then by the hour and perhaps by the week.
Both price tags and pre-agreed wages are pretty new ideas, ideas that fundamentally changed our culture.
By putting a price on buying and selling of goods and effort, industrialists permitted commerce to flow. One of the side effects, as Lewis Hyde has pointed out, is that knowing the price depersonalizes the transaction. It's even steven, we're done, goodbye.
Compare this to the craftsperson who won't sell to someone she doesn't respect, or the cook who charges people based on what he thinks someone can afford, or based on what he'll need to keep this project going a little longer... These ad hoc transactions are personal, they bring us closer together. Everything doesn't have to have a price if we don't let it.
Which leads to the eagerly avoided questions like, "What do you owe the editors at Wikipedia?" or "Is it okay to blog if you don't get paid for it?" and "Is there a difference between staying at a friend of a friend's house and staying at an Airbnb?" When people use Kickstarter as a sort of store, they denature the entire point of the exercise.
Seeking out personal transactions might be merely a clever way to save money. But in a post-industrial economy, it's also a way to pay it forward and to build community.
Sometimes, we don't pay because we have to, we pay because we can.
[PS... a new course, on listening]
The third Acumen course is now live... the astonishing Krista Tippett is doing her first online course, and you can find it here at a discount. (Trouble with the link? Please try: http://plusacumen.org/acumen-master-krista-tippett/ )
This joins the course we did with Elizabeth Gilbert (see below for reviews).
Which followed the first, the leadership course I launched the series with.
It's amazing what you can learn in a few hours if you're willing to do the work.
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Elizabeth is awesome on camera. I feel like it's just the two of us. Normally, I hate online courses. This is different! Loving this! - Denise
Who doesn't love Liz Gilbert? The content was refreshing and inspirational. The assignments were thought-provoking. For the price I paid, I thought this was a great workshop. - Bernadette Xiong
This is amazing. I have needed this kind of talking to for a very long time. Thank you, Elizabeth. - James Hoag
I love it! Her voice is soothing and what she is saying is so appealing. I can't wait to go on! - Susan Archibald
I enjoyed it very much. Many good nuggets of wisdom to help me on my path. - Linda Joyner
Elizabeth has that rare ability to invite you into an intimate conversation on a very weighty subject, with a touch as light as a sparrow's ripple of air on a spring day. The introduction has already laid out some actions to take that I can tell will wake up my sense of being alive and in the world. - Jim Caroompas
Being at the age where you start questioning everything around you, I feel so far that this workshop is directed to me. I feel as thought Liz has invited me over to discuss a few things to help me get back on track. – Maria Pezzano
Liz's response to the fatigued teacher really resonated with me. The fact that the reason and season for our existence and the various roles we play change with time. I love the takeaways - going from grandiose to granular, learning with humility and serving with joy. These are lessons for life. – Smita Kumar
This course was just what I needed, delivered by a wise, empathetic, funny, fun Elizabeth Gilbert. It didn't chew up vast amounts of time or make me feel like I had "work" to do. I enjoyed it so much I'll probably go back and do the entire thing over again. Don't feel like you need to do all the workbooks right away, either. I percolated them for a while and it still worked out fine. More Elizabeth Gilbert, please! – Vanessa Kelly