Saturday, September 4, 2010

Routes of Power

It's sad, but terribly fitting that my search-fu has not been strong enough to find a stat that shows that the number of different jobs available in the world has been increasing dramatically. But it doesn't take a genius to know that what once was "web developer" is not some huge number of distinct titles, and that a lot of positions that will come into being within a decade don't even exist in embryo right now.

As an example, computer programmers in the early days of the craft were not Computer Science majors. The opportunity to study programming didn’t always exist; programmers were picked from among other scientists and engineers on an ad-hoc basis, self-selected by their talent and ability to self-train. As the digital world both expands in its own realm, and facilitates corporate ventures that are not necessarily all web-based, more of these positions are being formed, and there aren’t necessarily freshly minted degree-holders with skills specialized for these jobs.

So learning about computers, people, statistics, and content gives us power to prepare for and create new jobs. Those job choices can increase our power by allowing us to make more money, choose our employers, and gain more autonomy.

Of course, full-time employment is not the only factor in monetary empowerment. The trends today include empowerment by pennies—coupons and other savings methods make routes of power past the cash register. Agricultural co-ops offer produce at reduced prices, and in-kind economies make money less essential.

Opportunites for making pennies on the side abound in our modern world as well. The nascent content economy and the internet’s bridging of distance allows for a lot more freelancing, amateur blogging, and other individual endeavors.

Other forms of personal empowerment include fortifying oneself against risk, and maintaining control of one’s life. Emergency preparation aficionados, or “preppers”, are on the rise. The greening of home and city has become both hobby and professional pursuit. Homebirths and homeschool keep control in the hands of individuals, and out of institutions.

Of course, individuals aren’t the only ones that are seeking empowerment in our changing world. The governments and communities we live in are also seeking for power and control, innovating by leveraging their sovereignty or testing new rules on a small scale. Politicians innovate, building internet-based grassroots followings.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of routes of power phenomena—hopefully humanity's experience with personal empowerment through innovation is just beginning.

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