Friday, January 8, 2010

Increased Productivity Equals Jobless Recovery?

A few years ago when I wanted to demonstrate increased productivity to Senior citizen groups I used the example which resonated with folks my age, particularly women, who used to take typing and shorthand in high school "just in case they had to go to work if something happened to their husbands." Don't laugh--we were given the message totally seriously.

It was easy to demonstrate what it used to take to make copies of a manuscript or letter. If one needed 4 or 5 copies, we could insert a few carbons and type really hard to get the desired result. If we needed more than that, say 100 or 200 or more copies, we could make a ditto or cut a stencil. Both were messy and took quite some time to accomplish. Oh, yes, mistakes had to be corrected one page at a time and were never very neat. And until mimeograph machines used electricity, the typist or clerk had to crank out the number needed.

Compare that to the computer. Type in the copy fixing any mistakes as made along the way with spell check, click on print, choose the number needed and walk away to do something else while the printer does all the work, including collating if needed. Voila! Perfect copies and no smearing.

Here we are 50 years or so later and in cyberspace.

Just happened to have a dinner time conversation last night when talking about ebooks and what will soon be happening to the publishing business just as newspapers are disappearing today. Even if there are costs associated with the modern methods of downloading textbooks as well as any other kind of book, it appears the wave of the future will soon become a tsunami. The fallout will spread from the actual publishing house to bookstores and all other activity associated with distribution, etc.

I'm thinking we could have a contest to list the kinds of jobs that will no longer exist due to modern inventions and changes in the ordinary habits of every day living. And there you have it, not just asking more of each individual employee to make up for a smaller staff, but the use of modern tools making people themselves unnecessary.

Not a happy thought. Long live the buggy whip.
Have a good weekend--
God bless..........

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