I’ve spent the past decade
researching and writing about elite performers in creative fields. In this
time, I’ve noticed that examples like Feynman and Stephenson are common. That
is, many people who excel in producing things that matter have work habits that
seem downright lazy
by the standards in their field.
Neal Stephenson justifies his
snubbing of his readers for similar reasons. As he explained in his Bad
“If I organize my life in such a
way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks
can write novels. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my
productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly..."
Want to Create Things That Matter? Be Lazy.
by Cal Newport99U
Some economists estimate that a
quarter of the American population is now engaged in “guard labor” of one sort
or another—defending property, supervising work, or otherwise keeping their
fellow Americans in line. Economically, most of this disciplinary apparatus is
The morality of debt and the
morality of work are the most powerful ideological weapons in the hands of
those running the current system. That’s why they cling to them even as they
are effectively destroying everything else.
The human imagination stubbornly
refuses to die. And the moment any significant number of people simultaneously
shake off the shackles that have been placed on that collective imagination,
even our most deeply inculcated assumptions about what is and is not
politically possible have been known to crumble overnight.
By 2011, a significant gap appears
between the two lines, showing economic growth with no parallel increase in
job creation. Brynjolfsson and McAfee call it the “great decoupling.”
And Brynjolfsson says he is confident that technology is behind both the
healthy growth in productivity and the weak growth in jobs.
white-collar jobs, such as many in the post office and in customer service,
have disappeared. W. Brian Arthur, a visiting researcher at the Xerox
Palo Alto Research Center’s intelligence systems lab and a former economics
professor at Stanford University, calls it the “autonomous economy.”
It’s far more subtle than the idea of robots and automation doing human jobs,
he says: it involves “digital processes talking to other digital processes and
creating new processes,” enabling us to do many things with fewer people and making
yet other human jobs obsolete.
McAfee, associate director of the
MIT Center for Digital Business at the Sloan School of Management... as digital
technologies—fueled with “enough computing power, data, and geeks”—continue
their exponential advances over the next several decades. “I would like to be
wrong,” he says, “but when all these science-fiction technologies are deployed,
what will we need all the people for?”