I got a great tweet on the wire today from Tim O’Reily who is one of the kings of Twitter, but also a really smart guy. It was link to a column from Scott Adams (Dilbert) about the economy and where he sees it going.
“I wonder what people mean when they say the economy will recover in 2010. The only way that can happen is if another irrational bubble forms thus creating an illusion of wealth similar to our previous illusions. If you take illusions out of the equation, there isn’t anything to get “back” to. The wealth was never there in the first place.”
“In California we’re facing a severe budget deficit, and this will demand cuts in education among other things. I can imagine a future economy where everyone is home schooled over the Internet, and the average result is an improvement. With the Internet you could leverage the best teaching methods to the entire country. No one gets the bad teacher or the disruptive class. There are no bullies and no cliques.”
He goes on to talk about how things like wasting of resources will just no longer be tolerated because it will be absolutely necessary for societies to run lean. But that this problem along with the Internet may finally make us as a society make fundamental changes in the ways we think about recycling, transportation, education and commerce. Look, there are a lot of trade offs, and things are much more grey than black and white especially when it comes to the benefits of social interation….
…And rethink we must. I often think about city skyscrapers, or my own office building for that matter and how many resources are consumed every day by utilities, heat, plumbing, and transportation, when most people (myself included) take up an office or a cube and sit in front of a computer all day.
Now take that idea and scale it. I was on a ferry this summer in NYC and was just loving the skyline dotted with lights and skyscrapers. But think for a minute. Most of those buildings are just office space. What are most of the people doing in those offices? I’d venture to guess either being on the phone, the computer or in a meeting… all things that could be done remotely.
What would happen if you could give every employee a kick ass computer, pay for a home high speed web connection and a cell phone. What could that fundamental change save you in real dollars and sense….. More importantly, what could it save you in productivity and moral of employees…
The argument could be made that people have more of an incentive to ‘slack off’ or just blog (oops) all day. But I’d make a counter argument that you might not want those people working for your company anyway. I’d argue that with these kinds of systems (of course there’s a learning curve involved), you’d not only make employees happier as they could build work around their lifestyle, but you’d also attract better employees.
It might be wishful thinking, but if this artificial wealth bubble doesn’t come back, we may be forced to make some difficult but necessary decisions on the ways that we all interact and work together. Oh yeah, def. check out Scott’s article…