Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Modern Liberal Goal Part 2: Work as a game

So the question is:
If the liberal goal [everyone only has to work as much as they want to] is achieved, what is there to do for someone seeking to become wealthy? What can we do with an army of people who don't ever have to work for a living?
Now we've got two types of people in the world: those producing less than they consume, and those producing more.

The government subsidizes people who are overconsuming, so they never have to work if they don't want to.

So what's a future capitalist to do?

We have to make them want to work.

We can do this in two ways: make work fun, or make work easy.

How do we make work fun?
Make it into a game! People will put enormous effort into games voluntarily.

We've already got some great business models for this:

Work hard for free!
Open source software and Wikipedia use this model.
"Hey, give us tons of skilled labor and get no money in return!"

Work hard for social benefits!
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and every social networking site ever.
"Hey, give us tons of information to help target ads!"

Work hard to create value for paying users!
Zynga, Chinese MMOs (see slide 16 of this excellent presentation). We can make a free-to-play gameworld where our non-paying users add value for our paying users to take advantage of.
"Pay for our game, you can kill noobs!"
noobs: "noooo *adds value*"

How do we make work easy?
Bring it to them! Who minds working from home? Idiots, that's who. All the cool people want to work from home.

What have we got?

Use the massively parallel processor in your head to solve problems!
Amazon's Mechanical Turk lets you solve a single tiny task and get a single tiny amount of money.
"Transcribe this for a quarter!"

Write an essay for $10!
Demand Studios will pay you to write essays for them, which they then spam all over the internet and place ads on. It solves two problems: how do we fill the internet with more crap, and how do we get people to write more crap?
"Write some crap!"

Make some media and we'll sell it and give you a cut!
Infinite stock photography sites do this, as well as the Envato network for sounds, music, graphics, and other media.
"Make a song, we'll give you a few dollars per download!"

Ok, that's enough examples!
Yay! I hope you're convinced that our brave new world of consumers is not necessarily a bleak dystopia. Sure, the government will take a ton of our money, and redistribute it to the less worthy, but that doesn't mean we can't still extract some value from them!

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