Simple illustration of how work is changing

Previous post gave a big-word description of how work is changing.  Megan McArdle extends Mr Kling’s concepts in her post, The New New New Economy.

She paints two alternative paths as a choice between risk and being an assembly line drone when she says:

Then the jobs started to go away and we discovered that many people like dreary predictability–at least, compared to the real-world alternative, which is risk.  What many, maybe most, people actually want, it turns out, is the creativity and autonomy of entrepreneurship combined with the stability of a 1950s corporate drone.  This is a fantasy, of course, but given their druthers, it’s not clear that most people will pick risk over dronedom.

She concludes by explaining that one of her first jobs was as a secretary to an executive. She doubts that any of the executives at that company still have a secretary. Why? Her explanation:

That’s not because the work was being outsourced to Bangalore, but because computers and the internet were eliminating much of the coolie labor that secretaries used to take care of.

Coolie labor.  Not an insult, but a description of the dreary, mind-numbing work involved in certain jobs.  Think about it.

What are a few of the things that secretaries used to do?  Type up a dictated memorandum, proofread a letter, request and pick up a report from DP, print & collate a report, ship the report out to a certain group of people, schedule a conference room for a meeting, invite attendees to a meeting, file reports or documents in a file cabinet.  An executive can do all those things from a desktop computer.  Or a tablet.

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