What about productivity?



These words seem to come up often.

Curious if we know what they mean.

Curious if we know what the essence the word evokes, does to the human spirit.


Satori, at 11, talked of not being very productive. Going deeper into the conversation, we came to find out, she had misinterpreted a turning in of assignments/worksheets (that she couldn’t remember much from), for a sense of accomplishment. At the time she brought the subject up, she had been reading a book a day, was immersed in writing her first novel, among many other things (we had to pull out of her mind/heart), along with, going on more walks with her parents.

Sierra, at 14, said that the curriculum was stressing her out. She was in the be you house, and had no said curriculum. Going deeper into the conversation, we came to find out, she had added her parents’ wishes to a calendar she created to represent her own structure of the day/week/month. She was calling their wishes, her curriculum. And it was stressing her out. The video below was one of her/our revelations from these types of experiences/conversations.


crowdworking at amazon


In 1911, the American engineer Frederick Taylor delivered a paper in which he announced that workers’ natural laziness and propensity for underworking was “the greatest evil which the working-people of both England and America are now afflicted.” His solution was a system of “scientific management,” wherein work would be divided into the smallest repeatable tasks and assigned a time limit. The aggregate of these tasks would then become the baseline for the workday, and “those who fail to rise to a certain standard are discharged and a fresh supply of carefully selected men are given work in their place.”

Almost a century later, Amazon hit upon a similar approach to worker productivity. Yet, whereas Taylor’s genius was in super-charging the assembly line by reducing all skilled work to tiny micro-tasks, the genius of Mechanical Turk is in creating virtual assembly lines.




via Quinn Norton nov 2014 – against productivity:

it takes us getting nothing done


norton productivity law




wasting time on the internet: 

Distraction and split attention will be mandatory. So will aimless drifting and intuitive surfing. The students will be encouraged to get lost on the Web, disappearing for three hours in a Situationist-inspired dérive, drowsily emerging from the digital haze only when class is over. We will enter a collective dreamspace, an experience out of which the students will be expected to render works of literature. To bolster their practice, they’ll explore the long history of the recuperation of boredom and time-wasting, through critical texts by thinkers such as Guy Debord, Mary Kelly, Erving Goffman, Raymond Williams, and John Cage.


there is never nothing going on.

the prize ness.

begin being.

In old age the emphasis shifts from doing to being, and our civilization, which is lost in doing, know nothing of being. It asks: being? What do you do with it?   – Echart Tolle


Margaret Heffernan: Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work

Original Tweet:


9) #recalibration : The business case for mindset as competitive advantage v @ribbonfarm HT @petervan  deep thinking

Original Tweet:

Productivity as we know it is based on delayed gratification, which described a world that was predictable and structured. It was clear what you had to do and in what order — it was just a matter of scheduling and pain tolerance. But delayed gratification is obsolete in a world dominated by VUCA, because the pain you’re pulling into the present might not even be necessary, and the gratification you’re pushing into the future might never materialize. It is not at all clear what must be done and in what order; in fact, it becomes ever more clear that most of the tasks we execute don’t make much of a difference, while a tiny percentage randomly and dramatically influence the course of our work and our lives. It makes sense to invest more and more resources in making that distinction, because the absolute fastest way to complete a task or reach an objective is to realize you don’t have to.

supposed to’s

almost didn’t read this article because of tweet calling for competitive advantage…

perhaps we call out competitions/advantages as @fortelabs calls out delayed gratification ie: as irrelevant if living antifragile (more notes from this here)

irrelvant quote vinay


ब्रानिस्लाभ इभानोभिच (@pkssajalstha) tweeted at 7:07 PM – 8 Mar 2019 :
“Our economies has become vast engine for producing nonsense” – David Graeber. #Fact (


David Graeber (@davidgraeber) tweeted at 5:52 PM on Wed, Jan 08, 2020:
excellent piece about productivity by .@blair_fix
I remember looking at a sector-by-sector chart & it included the “productivity” of real estate. Huh? What’s the productivity of real estate?

Economists’ main theory for explaining individual income is called human capital theory. According to this theory, human capital makes you more productive. This productivity then makes you earn more income

The problem (which I’ve written about here and here) is that economists don’t have a way of measuring productivity that is independent of income. What they do instead is resort to circular logic. They define productivity in terms of income.

So when you read about labor productivity in the national accounts, this actually has nothing to do with the output of workers. It has to do with their income. Productivity is measured in terms of value added, which is effectively a form of income.. So poorly-paid teachers appear (to economists) to be less productive than well-paid teachers.

If this sounds like nonsense to you, it’s because it is. It’s based entirely on circular logic. Productivity is supposed to explain income. But then economists use income to measure productivity.

In reality, I think income has little to do with productivity, and little to do with the properties of individuals. Instead, income is about social position. Income depends on what others think you do, not what you actually do..t

Reading Bullshit Jobs reinforced in my mind that we should think of income as a social outcome. When it comes to income, it often doesn’t matter what we actually do. Instead, what matters is what other people think we do.

This is where human capital theory gets it wrong. It attaches income to the properties of individuals. In reality, income has mostly to do with your position in a social network.

my job title is just what other people perceive that I do..t They have no idea that through every job, I’ve sat at my computer and written papers. And these papers are what I consider to be my true ‘output’.

Many people do bullshit jobs so that they have time to pursue creative activities. These people (including me) regard the non-paid aspect of the activity to be their ‘true’ output. But this unpaid activity gets no respect in the minds of economists. t