The WTF Economy
Tim O'Reilly

I like both your play on the acronym and your ability to see that we need a more coherent, and, I would argue, diverse vision of the intersection of work and the transformations being wrought by a variety of technologies. That noted, there’s a certain irony that your call appears in my feed the same day as Zeynep Tufekci’s thoughtful piece on “The Great Software Glitch of July 8”. In my response to her essay, I noted that one of the things I think we need to think more clearly about is how the softwarification of our world may, in fact, lock too many users out of those processes that produce value. The result can be lopsided, repeating history as Anand Giridharadas’ pointed out in “Doublespeak in the New Economy.” That lopsidedness, as you have long argued, means that we are in fact impoverishing the base from which innovation arises — the liveliness of the maker movement, as it is now known, attests to the frustration that too many feel but too often gets focused on dabbling at the edges and not on challenging the nature of the engine at the center of the great machine. Here’s hoping this goes well. I’ve spent the last few years documenting, and thinking about, how the intersection of creativity and economics at the local level: so local that the dynamics look less less social or cultural and more personal. The importance of remembering the role and place of people in all this is terribly important, otherwise this looks like yet another power/money grab from the usual suspects — here, the center having shifted from the financial-industrial center of New York to the software-industrial center of the Bay.

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