The computer age is enabling workers to mask deficiencies (like spelling) and odd work times behind productivity and work-load achievements; work set and achieved at a blistering pace – and big business knows this. Sitting at home, an over-65er who can't sleep anyway and tomorrow's young work force, both can catch up on paperwork, statistics, sales, whatever, and transmit the results over the Internet. Up to today, the measure of the output of a worker (productivity) was set against piecework standards or office overhead. Soon pay will be linked to company profit. Working flexi-time, old pay standards no longer apply and the only measure of output from a worker will be his or her success in getting paid for a set amount of work (piecework) or corporate financial gain from sales/profit contracts.
Ten years ago the idea was that you could get on-line, take on an e-task and earn extra e-dollars. Like migrant workers standing on a street corner waiting for day work, you too could pick jobs off an Internet site and, task completed, earn e-credits good toward your holiday, mortgage, car payment, whatever. Somehow it has not quite worked out that way.
The new pressure of the modern computer employment, compared to the model of the 50's, 60's and 70's when you got your weekly or monthly paycheck and could plan a life of mortgages, kids' college, car payments, etc. is familiar to all the self-employed. Those of you on company payrolls are either preparing now for the temp stress or already deep into it, unsure what tomorrow will bring. Of course, you can always get a mortgage, car lease, and plan for those college fees, stabilizing your income by setting up your own cottage industry, a small company and paying yourself a salary (which will look good to a bank).
Some people will not cope with this pressure and our society may need to help them over the future's uncertainty with some sort of work guidelines, re-education, and social welfare. Not to do so may cause the collapse of the economy as a whole. Think I'm kidding? The Internet is based on a certain number of subscribers and transactions taking place daily and a planned expansion of that number for the future. If the people who can't cope with this new way of life begin to log off and disconnect from the system, the very fabric of the Internet may collapse. It's what Gandhi did in India, disconnected from the Industrial Revolution's machine output (cotton mills), wobbled the economy of England and forced negotiations. Homespun became a more effective weapon than bullets or anarchy. The people who cannot cope, the Spin-Offs I call them, can bring about a collapse of the system just as effectively. Each one of us secretly dislikes the darn computer. It's indispensable but can be a very personal thorn in our side. Turn it off?
Sounds tempting. That's enough to start a counter-culture. If enough people switch off, the Internet and e-commerce will blink out.
And if enough people fall off the job bandwagon because they cannot understand or cope with the Internet and all the modern viral media applications already pushing business (as it already pushes the government, with daily Tweets), then these disenfranchised will either bankrupt a generous society needing handouts or, if starving, they will revolt, perhaps as Gandhi did. Spin-Offs have secret power. Commerce pretending they are not there or will fade away is dangerous. Forcing them to adapt to an e-society is too much like Clockwork Orange. The burden of these Spin-Offs should be catered for by the new e-conomy we've created. Just as we protect worthwhile historic enterprises in our society (wooden shipbuilders, folk dancers, colonial villages) those who prefer pen and ink, reading a book instead of scanning it, and a way of life that got us here from our recent past though hard work and excellence, these people deserve to have their way of life preserved, even if they are Spin-Offs from this brave new e-world we're creating.