Recommendations For Taking the Leap: A List That Should Aid You In Making Use of The Great Technology Shift Towards Giving Attention
What I will posit in this article is that the “job” that needs to be done by people who have a middle class income, a set of technical and soft skills, and who feel they are bored is the job of helping others.
Not just helping for a fee. Volunteering.
Securing a contract or a set of freelancer obligations, unhinging ourselves from the day to day and the static location we live in, and traveling the world to answer questions and help others get their personal and private ambitions completed.
I came up with this idea after reading about Margaret Mead and Bali culture. There is a section in Mead’s writing about Balinese life where she points out that much of the learning done by the children in the society is “kinesthetic.”
Meaning, the adults sit down at the task with them and actually walk and pace those children through the task so that they not only learn the muscle memory of the cultural task, but they also bond with the teacher, and therefore gain trust and commitment in the culture they inherit.
We live in a world now that is not only global, but that is also “inheritable” by everyone who experiences it. The role of those who have had some measure of success is, in my opinion, to spend less time committed solely to their own success, but to commit themselves to the success of others.
Many folks in the 23–37 year old (random) demographic are choosing the global nomad life. On the surface, without digging too much, these may seem like entitled people with trust funds, or enough cash to travel. There are some of those. But global nomads largely are people who have left their society for another one — or a set of societies — in order to learn something new by working with complete strangers on tasks that need to be done in the emerging and developing world.
Areas of the world that, ironically for their characteristics of poverty and inefficiency, are some of the most beautiful places in the world. Like Bali.
More on that later.
If you are a global nomad, you need to do two things very well:
Connect with people
Get shit done.
Nomads are people who are moving to produce, and producing to move. They do that through people, and through machinery. And combining their connections with those two “resources,” they produce future benefit for other people, not only themselves.
We Just Entered A Truly Globalist Epoch, And We Haven’t Caught Up To Our Production Yet
Albert Wenger says it more simply than I can, and his recent description of the scarcity of human attention got me to thinking about what mindset is needed to become nomadic. The scarcity of human attention is a misnomer. It’s not that we don’t have attention. It’s that it is pointed in the wrong places, because technology has already taken us there — towards other people, not towards just our own needs.
Where is the new scarcity? It is human attention. With birth rates thankfully decelerating almost everywhere, peak population is finally a possibility. We all have only 24 hours in the day and we need to work, eat and sleep. That puts a hard limit on how much human attention exists. At the same time digital technologies are producing unprecedented amounts of information that we could pay attention to. On Youtube alone 100 hours of video is uploaded every minute. Increasingly you can measure how valuable something is by how much attention it controls (e.g., Google, Facebook, etc).
And just like previous scarcities one of the reasons that attention is scarce is that we are bad at this new technology.
When you think about scarcity of attention, you should be thinking about being nomadic, or, think about being a person who is searching for other people to help, by leaving where you came from to find those other people.
Now that tech has made it possible to connect, it’s not enough to think about what is needed to be nomadic.
It’s important to answer:
What do people want? — Short answer: people everywhere are searching for identity and success.
Where are nomads necessary? — In the emerging world economies, which are rapidly changing and evolving in some areas that are even outpacing developed markets.
What gets done by becoming nomadic? — Not only your own work, but a kind of cultural transmutation. Things and cultural beliefs that used to be locked into the silos of a culture are now becoming unlocked, and they are migrating on the backs of people who travel with an open mind and multiple purposes.
Just to make sure I am abundantly clear on this…
The World of Time and Work is Changing
Wenger’s point, in my opinion, is that technology development creates an abundance of a certain type of asset or resource, in this case, attention. But not before it first indicates or points to a clear and present scarcity of it. In this case, during the current epoch of technological advancement,
Wenger believes the asset is “attention,” but he goes farther to point out that it’s attention that benefits people. This is the crucial thinking and the most important piece to take away from it.
Right now we suck at time and managing information but soon we won’t be. Because technology will refine how we use time for attention, and because attention itself will shift because of how we use technology and attention, there are opportunities out there to provide people with the standards of living that will enable more people to be more productive with their attentions.
I think he’s saying that different types of people, at different stages, have different attentions.
And the use value of those attentions changes, depending on what needs to be done, and on what can be done because of that person’s contact with assets, resources, and time.
Thus, rich people should be helping non-rich people.
Non-rich people will soon be not-poor. We will help each other.
What This Means for Travel and Why I Built This First List
I think that it’s going to become easier for everyone to travel. And not just the elite. And not just travel in the way we know it. How we travel and what we do when we travel will change. The reason why we travel will change. I don’t know enough to know how all this will happen, but I feel it early. My intuition has been driving apeshit for the past two years, as I have adapted to a new lifestyle that is almost always travel.
And I know I am not the only one. I know that I am not going to be the only type of person — white, middle class, gainfully employed — who can do this.
I built this following list, because I think there are resources we need to make sure that travel becomes productive in spiritual, professional, and social ways.
What You Are Going to Need
If the world is going to be filled with global nomads, then there are tools that you need to augment yourself with context, culture, currency and the means of production. You will always be moving, but as you move, you will need to connect.
Here’s my view on how and what:
Two mobile phones, or a mobile phone that can handle dual SIMs.
Music — either the ability to play music, or the dedication to learn how to play music; or at the very least the ability to understand different versions of music, and the cultures that they spawn.
A laptop and cloud accounts — Github, Dropbox, Google files, and anything that is going to help you drop-ship your ideas, primarily because as you move around the world you are going to encounter people who want to learn more about how to do the things they are trying to get done. Most of the people in these economies have the Internet, but they don’t have the people who are going to transfer information to them. Making sure you are locked and loaded with cloud sharing means that after you help these folks get into the cloud, too, you will be able to share your knowledge and co-work with them, as a partner-in-function.
A good understanding of goodwill and the ability to recognize it when you see it
A belief that everyone is trying to get something done, you really just need to learn how to ask them in the right ways.
A willingness to help people, often without pay, but with the open heart and mind that believes the payback will come through relationships and not assets.
Fear — fear is often a signal that you have something to learn, and it’s not always a signal that your life is in danger or that your identity and person is being threatened. Fear may actually signal an opportunity. But make sure you know the right kinds of fear. I’m talking about fear of change, or fear that you may be wasting your time.
The Grounding Philosophy
The last thing to mention here is that this entire list and the reasons for having the list rely on a single important philosophy: that we are living in an era of getting shit done with others.
You are not bored. You are simply not helping someone.
You only need a few contracts a month. You will only need to spend a few hours a month helping others.
The payoff is not imminent. The goal is not the payoff, the goal is to help someone grow and evolve.
You are someone’s half-finished thought.
Your concept of attention is flawed. Attention has always been something you give when you think you will benefit.
Attention is becoming something you give when someone else will benefit.
This is not to say that there is no benefit at all in helping others. The mutual respect it creates is beneficial. You grow in self-esteem, which makes you more productive and creative. You also share something, enabling something precious — your knowledge — to be freed and given to someone who may need it more than you.
Your concept of value is flawed. Value is not, how much you are worth. Value is how important you become to the life of someone else.
When you make this shift, which is the shift that diminishing friction, increasing time, and scaling attention is driving us toward, you are making a shift that benefits humankind. You will only feel it at first in how light and happy you become.
As the years go by, you will see how light and happy the entire world becomes.
You have work to do. We have work to do.