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Surprising Science

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?


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