Are We Wasting the Digital Dividend?

Seth Godin claims we squandered the peace dividend available in the wake of the Cold War and asks if we are doing the same with the opportunities now offered by the digital age.

What's the Big Idea?

What is the digital payoff? What is the digital age offering that we are not taking advantage of? Seth Godin poses the question in is latest blog, “Wasting the Digital Dividend”. The internet means that many time-consuming forms of white-collar drudgery have disappeared, or at least been offloaded to cheaper people, he notes. Theoretically, that leaves some people more time to spend on more productive and highly leveraged tasks. But are we wasting this potential? 

What's the Most Recent Development?

One of the new developments, as noted in the recent Economist report, Jobs of the Future, is Amazon's Mechanical Turk. It is one of about 100 such online labour exchanges that are the marketplace for simple crowdsourced tasks, particularly those known as “microwork”. According to an infoDev study the kind of work that is popularly farmed out includes classifying the products in an online store’s catalogue; transcribing handwritten documents; and signing up as a bogus fan of a consumer brand on social-networking sites. What more should we aspire to from the digital dividend?

Related Articles

Why Japan's hikikomori isolate themselves from others for years

These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.

700,000 Japanese people are thought to be hikikomori, modern-day hermits who never leave their apartments (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images).
Mind & Brain
  • A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
  • This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
  • Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less