Indieployment, or, are programmers the new Morlocks?
There is a long tradition in science fiction of stratified societies in which (sometimes a literal) underclass labors in darkness to enable an upper class to live a life of leisure and creativity.
Whether they are the Morlocks in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, the Troglytes of Star Trek’s The Cloud Minders, the District dwellers in The Hunger Games trilogy, or the workers in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, they are a socially despised (or even ignored) substratum that works long hours in relative isolation, using skills that the upper class doesn’t have or want, and eating non-nutritious foods just to keep going.
You know, like programmers. 😉
On the other hand, those in the sunshine in these stories are free to pursue intellectual pursuits: to write music; to discuss ideas; and sometimes to engage in snarky commentary on the works of others.
The top tier is often unaware of the disparity…they enjoy the freedom without a real awareness of what is making it possible.
Have we reached that point?
In another variation on this, it is computers, or robots, or some other magic 😉 that relieves people from day to day responsibilities and enables the creativity.
I’ve been thinking about this recently when I hear about the stubborn unemployment numbers.
Amazon loves to tell us about people who are making a living as authors through independent publishing who weren’t doing it before.
Hasn’t technology and the work of those programorlocks enabled them to live by being creative?
It’s not just authors: it’s musicians and app developers and videographers. It’s people who make little craft items and sell them on eBay.
It’s people who get advertising fees from Amazon and others for writing about ideas (and yes, items) and linking to the websites.
Is it possible that there are enough people making money as independents that it is inflating the unemployment rate? That might be especially true if those people were not reporting the income.
Could the “indieployment” rate be a hidden factor? If so, it’s not going to change easily…and in fact, it might grow. The internet has made it possible for people to make a living by being creative in a way that we never had before. Some companies, like eBay and Amazon, have recognized this, and made a lot of money on it.
Are we living in the clouds (or the Cloud) without knowing we’ve gotten to that “life of the mind” that used to be science fiction?
Feel free to let me know what you think by commenting on this post.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.