Checking In

by francine Hardaway on July 3, 2008

Last week everyone tried Plurk. Last night we all tried Last month, it was Brightkite and Friendfeed.

It all started with Twitter, and ever since Twitter showed its clay feet, we have all been dashing around trying to follow each other to the latest, greatest service.

“Who is we?”, you ask, since you are probably a member of none of these services, don’t have time for them, and wouldn’t miss them. After all, you have just joined LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo.

You got on LinkedIn only because you were laid off and looking for a job and someone told you it was good for networking. Facebook you joined because your kid was on it, and you were trying to find out what he was doing behind your back. You missed his sojourn into MySpace, because it wasn’t covered by the mainstream media until he had already switched to Facebook.

Plaxo sold itself to you years ago as a way to update your Outlook address book, and then spammed all your friends. You hate it, but you don’t really know how to get off.

You are terrified of all this Internet stuff. At work they make you change your password every two weeks, and you read about identity theft every day. And yet your kids spend their lives on the computer, or the cell phone, giving their information away freely.

A very small number of people in Silicon Valley and their cohorts are making your life miserable. They are forcing you to sign in to more and more services. They are taking away your privacy and taking control of your information out of your hands. They are adding to the deluge of emails you already read, and alerts you already must act upon, and the sites you must check for updates.

“How do they do it?” you ask. “Where do they find the time in the day to answer all the Plurks and Twitters and Friendfeeds and Brightkites?”

“I don’t have time for that. I have a life.”

Don’t worry. You are still the norm. But you won’t be for very long. For us, the people who live all day on these services, this IS life. We are part of a global community, talking to each other as if we were having conversations in the supermarket or at a coffee shop. We are not bounded by time, space, and in most cases, jobs. When we are reading each others’ tweets. we are working in the new context of work. The new definition of work.

We “employ” ourselves. Even if we are part of a larger entity (a corporation, a media property, a profession), we are now practicing it this way. We are empowered, emboldened, and free. We are recession-proof, because our skills are basic and can be re-interpreted. We don’t really need someone to give us a “job.” We don’t take sh*t from bosses.

Therefore, we won’t need a retirement plan. We won’t retire. We will just keep endlessly re-skilling ourselves, or reapplying basic skills (I write) in new contexts.

We are your children, and your grandchildren, if America continues to be a great, innovative country. Invest in our future, and don’t worry so much about what we do on the Internet. We will do just fine.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

steven shaffer July 3, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Well said. In fact, beautifully said. Here’s my take on the keys for success in the new world that my children will grow up in: community, entrepreneurship, creativity, knowledge of internet, marketing skills and community (again).
I plan to set the example for my children by eventually working only for myself.

Partly why I follow you ;-)

Francine hardaway July 4, 2008 at 8:12 am

I did set that example, and one of my children is doing it already. I teach entrepreneurship skills in Arizona because I believe they are essential to survival and everyone needs them.

Michael Rice July 4, 2008 at 1:43 pm

WOW! You’ve articulated exactly what I’ve been trying to explain to other people not on the same path as you, I, and we are on. When I try to explain it, usually it’s just crickets and blank stares. I might print this out to keep in my back pocket. It’s a veritable manifesto (as if manifestos were even necessary). Thanks!

Francine hardaway July 4, 2008 at 2:00 pm

It’s funny who gets on the global community path and who doesn’t. There’s an element of fear involved, and I don’t think it is fear of technology.

Brew July 6, 2008 at 1:07 pm

I was wondering if you still feel sorrow for Scott Cole’s suicide? Do you feel sorrow for the 900+ investors who have lost 800 million dollars due to fraud and crimes committed by the deceased Mr. Coles? He chose the way of Kenny Boy Lay, die and protect the assets for your family. The assets are protected and you will never be prosecuted, therefore no shame in the house of Jehovah.

Tao July 7, 2008 at 12:51 am

Great post, absolutely ruined by that one sentence “We are your children, and your grandchildren, if America continues to be a great, innovative country.”

Wake up and realise that what you are talking about so eloquently is a global phenomenon.

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