Thoughts on Distributed Productivity / by Joshua Berk

Provide tools to the distributed learner/worker for shared success.

Just as co-working is becoming the new-norm for the modern worker, education will become similarly stratified, aimed squarely at point-solutions for specific end-goals. Long gone are fully-integrated conglomerates, and the same is true of universities. That is not to say the need for multi-disciplinary learning will erode, but rather that it will become ever-more prevalent, with students seeking their knowledge from various, loosely-intertwined sources of specialty. In our new digital reality, everything will distill into what one might recognize as self-sufficient “minimum viable entities” (MVEs) … professionally, and personally. This shift is more simple than it may appear — the economist notes that how we organize ourselves will define our focus.

The new vector of value-addition in this modular economic model will be a layer of services (on top) and infrastructure (below) to support specialists which represent (effectively) the concentrated nodes of informational/experiential density. Others (like Gartner) have referred to this as the 'bottom-up economy.' The premium will continue to be paid to the creative destructors of our generation, the thought-leaders who re-orient our understanding of fundamental problems into simpler, more resonant concepts through the connection of otherwise disparate ideas. Take note: opportunities emerge for knowledge transfer and specialized skills development to assist in portability and agility of MVEs (e.g. coding bootcamps or Skillshare).

Abstractly speaking, the distinct barrier between aggregated entities and individuals will continue to blur, as each will take on characteristics of the other; value that one might capture is a function of what one will create, rather than protect. Much like GitHub, entrepreneurs should strive (primarily through software) to unlock the benefits for everyone from (traditional) larger organizations, which will gradually cease to exist. Economists understand this concept as 'unbundling' -- shifting the focus to search and discovery (using AI/ML recommendation algorithms). Examples of the new distributed productivity are abound: MIT's curriculum is fragmenting, and mobile devices are proliferating, which enables sharing-economy services like UberAirbnb, Taskrabbit, Makespace, or Teleport (although there are challenges). Digital nomads, prepare for the new normal.