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Data News: The Benefits and Economic Impact of Data Mining, and More

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Data News: The Benefits and Economic Impact of Data Mining, and More

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The average job now is done by someone who is stationary in front of some kind of screen. Someone who has just one overriding interest is tunnel-visioned, a bore, but also a specialist, an expert. Welcome to the monopathic world, a place where only the single-minded can thrive. Of course, the rest of us are very adept at pretending to be specialists. We doctor our CVs to make it look as if all we ever wanted to do was sell mobile homes or Nespresso machines. It’s common sense, isn’t it, to try to create the impression that we are entirely focused on the job we want? And wasn’t it ever thus? In fact, it wasn’t. Classically, a polymath was someone who ‘had learnt much’, conquering many different subject areas. As the 15th-century polymath Leon Battista Alberti — an architect, painter, horseman, archer and inventor — wrote: ‘a man can do all things if he will’. During the Renaissance, polymathy became part of the idea of the ‘perfected man’, the manifold master of intellectual, artistic and physical pursuits. Leonardo da Vinci was said to be as proud of his ability to bend iron bars with his hands as he was of the Mona Lisa.” [to be continued...]

In 1930, famed economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that within his lifetime, the future economy would be powered with a quarter of the effort. In a hundred years, he wrote, humanity would actually be confronted with the problem of too much leisure time, and what to do with it. Technological innovation meant that we could accomplish whatever needed doing in a 15-hour workweek, and we’d be endeavoring “to spread the bread thin on the butter,” distributing what little work was necessary as equally as possible. Today, despite massive gains in productivity, and thanks to unrepentant consumerism, Keynes’s prediction couldn’t have been further off. In 1991, sociologist Juliet Schor found that Americans in the early ‘90s were working 163 more hours than they were in 1973. But now, economists (including Schor) are considering a perception of time that actually makes sense for a post-industrial clock. In a recent book published by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), called Time on Our Side, they examine why a 30-hour workweek would be a more rational, efficient, and sustainable approach to the modern,developed economy. Most importantly, they say it’s totally doable–and big companies could even play a key part.” [to be continued....]


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