Zero sum workToo many service jobs are meant to cancel out the efforts of other service jobs, for example in litigation, where a plaintiff’s lawyer creates a job for the defendant’s lawyer. And often the zero-sumness is asymmetric: a dozen hackers make a theft, and companies everywhere subsequently need to spend collective billions on staff or contractors to protect themselves; a few criminal plague a state, and the government subsequently needs to hire hundreds of officers to make people feel safe; a few people commit accounting fraud, and the ensuing uproar forces companies and banks to ramp up the size of their compliance departments by tens of thousands in the aggregate.
rebuilding the shrineJapan’s Ise Grand Shrine is an extraordinary example in that genre. Every 20 years, caretakers completely tear down the shrine and build it anew. The wooden shrine has been rebuilt again and again for 1,200 years. Locals want to make sure that they don’t ever forget the production knowledge that goes into constructing the shrine. There’s a very clear sense that the older generation wants to teach the building techniques to the younger generation: “I will leave these duties to you next time.”
The importance of process knowledge (narratives?)The process knowledge can also be referred to as technical and industrial expertise, which includes knowledge of how to store wafers, how to enter a clean room, how much electric current should be used at different stages of the fab process, and countless other things. This is the kind of knowledge that’s won by experience. Anyone with detailed instructions but no experience actually making chips is likely to make a mess.
Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports?One hypothesis is that endurance sports offer something that most modern-day knowledge economy jobs do not: the chance to pursue a clear and measurable goal with a direct line back to the work they have put in. In his book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, philosopher Matthew Crawford writes that “despite the proliferation of contrived metrics,” most knowledge economy jobs suffer from “a lack of objective standards.”
In 1880, the top verbs associated with jobs in metro areas include “thread,” “stretch,” “sew,” and “braid” (perhaps a tribute to clothes, shoe, and rope manufacturing). Among the least-used verbs are “teach,” “conduct,” and “rule.” In this early period, cities were centers of specialized manufacturing processes, while more dynamic jobs were often centered in rural areas. By 2000, the pattern is reversed. The most common verbs (“develop,” “determine,” “analyze”) are strongly suggestive of knowledge-driven management. The least-used verbs (“restrain,” “cut,” “power”) are strongly suggestive of work on a factory floor — which there is less and less of in most cities. Now, cities are centers for interactive economic activities, while more specialized activities have shifted to outlying areas.