Issue #74
#74 - Your Kids' Jobs Will Be "Splintered"
July 07, 2023

#74 - Your Kids' Jobs Will Be "Splintered"

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If you haven't tried it, Google Photos performs low-level magic when tasked with finding an object from among your thousands of photos. But what I actually want is a service that goes into the same, massive store of photos to unearth some of the digital gold buried there. I want it to find the subset of really great photos that we've taken, but now lie -- languishing and forgotten -- amid the avalanche of pics that have followed.

This week my daughter did the lift for us when she dug up a clip of my then-4-year-old son being asked by his mom, "What do you want to be when you grow up?". He responds:

"I want to watch Star Wars every day."

"I want to eat lots of chocolates and candies like my dad gets to eat."

And when pushed for more: "I want to wear a 'business' shirt". 🤔

Of course, these many years later, your work-obsessed curator got a big kick out of the clip. But it also got me wondering: what would "work" look like in ~10 years, when my little ones join the workforce?

In issue #39 we featured this Tweet from Gen Z observer and investor Rex Woodbury:

Young people can be forgiven for struggling with the concept of a "dream job" while they're in the midst of a wholesale reimagining of work as we know it. As it turns out, the very notion of holding one, solitary job at a time -- being tethered to one institution -- is under serious threat at the very same time.

This week, we use our Stories to explore how a bevy of trends -- generational differences, the Internet itself, the poor state of work, and the waning trust we have in it -- are conspiring to make "jobs" more fractious than ever:

🎯 Story #1 - Rex, above, explains how seismic generational shifts and beliefs about work, combined with the Internet, mean young people are less willing -- and less needing -- to rely on a corporate gig.
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🎯 Story #2 -
A startup puts together remote project teams of flexible and skilled workers, quickly signs up hundreds of paying companies, and raises tens of millions in funding.
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🎯 Story #3 - A successful visual designer and web entrepreneur uses one pithy line to explain why more people are exploring the upside of designing an online career.

Thank you, always, for reading and exploring with us -- and have a fantastic week!

Aki + Usman

#1

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#SplinteringJobs #WorkRedesign #InternetJobs #GenerationalDifferences

We featured Rex's Tweet in our intro, and here we glean from one of his insightful blog posts. He reminds us that the Internet has birthed a new and growing category of jobs. But he also makes a more important point: as a consequence, younger generations need traditional work and corporate jobs less than the generations that came before them.

These younger generations, especially, are less willing to settle for the bureaucracy, burnout and rigidity of traditional work in exchange for upsides -- job stability, buying a home, being able to afford children -- which appear increasingly unattainable.

There are more options now available to workers; there are more playbooks for how to "do" less traditional work; and there is less stigma, or social cost, for going after it. (A trend that will only accelerate as Internet-based work, "solopreneurship", etc, becomes more normalized).

Meantime there fewer and fewer financial costs; and these, too, will continue to fall. Rex explains:

Going back to my point earlier, Gen Zs now have more options. Entrepreneurship has never been easier, with companies like Stripe and AWS offering low-cost, low-friction building blocks. Many large internet platforms create thousands or even millions of digitally-native jobs.

#2

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#SplinteringJobs #Flexibility #Autonomy #GigWork

This article from the New York Times is about a startup, "A. Team", and the fundraising it raised last year. A. Team hires technical knowledge workers -- 4,000 and counting -- who want to do autonomous, flexible, craft-focused work. And it introduces them as temporary project teams to companies in need of highly-skilled, remote labor. A. Team workers can work on multiple projects with different clients, and can take on work outside of A. Team, as well.

It strikes us as a knowledge worker variation of the flexible gig work which the likes of Uber, Grab and DoorDash..." reimagined" feels generous, but certainly "normalized" for a segment of the labor force. Our next Story hints that the web is poised to enable this kind of work, and flexibility, for a much larger swath of the world. ⬇️

#3

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#SplinteringJobs #TheWeb #Scale #Decentralization

Jack Butcher is a designer with a gift for compressing a ton of meaning into the visuals he creates. Early to building his own business on the web, he's become an astute observer of the dynamics that have enabled his success. Here ⬆️, he explains that most of us are (understandably) reluctant to forego the tried-and-true approach of one employer at a time for a career that relies on a distributed Internet network of billions of strangers.

But because we use it every day, we often fail to appreciate just how big and powerful the web is. Another online creator-entrepreneur, David Perrell, calls the Internet, "the greatest matching tool ever invented". His point is that because it is so large and decentralized, we now have the ability to find people, connection, community, and serendipity -- but also products and customers -- on an entirely new scale.

In issue #71, "The Great Thinning Out Of The Traditional Firm", we chronicled how technology and a bias for efficiency meant companies were becoming leaner and leaner. Here, we see that people are opting out of traditional work at the same time; with more efficiency and less friction than ever.

Back to ruminating on the type of job my kids will have then: is it a stretch to think they probably won't have one employer at a time, the way their mom and dad always have? That they might hold their own, Internet-enabled job -- or jobs -- of some kind?

If "work" can't find a way to become much better, much faster than it is right now -- we think not. ✌️

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏻

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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