Excerpt of the Day: Seth Godin

There are two recessions going on...

One is forever.

One is gradually ending, this is the cyclical recession, we have them all the time, they come and they go. Not fun, but not permanent.

The other one, I fear, is here forever. This is the recession of the industrial age, the receding wave of bounty that workers and businesses got as a result of rising productivity but imperfect market communication.

[Protectionism] isn't going to fix this problem. Neither is stimulus to old factories or yelling in frustration and anger. No, the useful response to this is to view this as an opportunity. To poorly paraphrase Clay Shirky, every revolution destroys the last thing before it turns a profit on a new thing.

The networked revolution is creating huge profits, significant opportunities and lots of change. What it's not doing is providing lots of brain-dead, corner office, follow-the-manual middle class jobs. And it's not going to.

[The] sad irony is that everything we do to prop up the last economy (more obedience, more compliance, cheaper yet average) gets in the way of profiting from this one.

Seth Godin
The Forever Recession
Seth's Blog 09/21/10


  1. I'm not sure about the industrial age part of this. I can pretty much understand it if you think of everyone having jobs building gigantic machines out of mined ore, run on fossil fuels, etc...the thing is, people are always going to want new stuff. Maybe it won't be gigantic stuff made of iron, but there will be things people will think is cool. Machines will probably be needed to produce these things (not being sarcastic; I just have no idea what the future holds) and people will be needed to run these machines, design these machines and the things the machines produce, sell the products, etc., etc.

    As for "lots of brain-dead, corner office, follow-the-manual middle class jobs", I've never been close enough to that sort of job to have an opinion, other than to say that if it's truly brain-dead work then it's not something a thinking human would want anyway.

    I have no idea where I'm going with any of this except that I think people will continue to think of cool things, other people will make them, and most people will want to buy them. And I don't put too much importance on imperfect market communication as a positive factor in the past, and I certainly don't think that it's gone anyway. I'll know it's gone for good when used cars cost more than new ones. You know what I mean.

    I think people would be shocked to consider how much commerce is done on a small-business level, and how long things have been heading that way. The word "industrial" evokes images of giant companies, so even if I'm wrong I'm not sure I'll miss the dinosaurs.

    It may be the information age, but you can't eat the Houston Astros's team batting average.

    Rambling and thinking WAY too much... I hope some of it makes sense. Either way, thanks for making me think, JR!

  2. I think the reference is to the Industrial AGE or era, of big factories and assembly lines with electromechanical analog systems as opposed to the new Information age of electronic parts and digital components and networks.

    I don't think that includes the end of what I refer to as man-made machine parts, that's going to be required for a long time to make the cool stuff that people want.