This week it’s a deep dive into futurist Stowe Boyd’s research on Social Scaling, Boundless Curiosity, Deep Generalists, Emergent Leadership, and other major features in the metamorphic landscape of the 21st Century workplace.

We live in an age when our human cognitive limits are being tested against a proliferation of possibilities in the digital space – and we zealously rush into always-on internet work, open office co-working spaces, enormous distributed online collaborations, and other novelties that seem to be more about the infinite capacity of our electronic tools than the finite reality of our minds and bodies.

Stowe Boyd has been studying and reporting on the future of work for over a decade, and his blog Work Futures is one of my cherished news sources for understanding how “we shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” Talking with him is a blast of cool reason and warm humor about the insanity of the modern work environment and the impossible demands that it makes on us – pointing toward more lucid, grounded, manageable, and yes productive new modes of labor in the dizzying technological milieus to come.

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Check out a recent edition of his Work Futures newsletter:

We Discuss:

Invented the term “social tools” and founded the Work Futures blog.

How do we live in an unstable landscape in which new platforms are constantly replacing the ones where we’ve established merit and earned currencies?

The return of publishing to human scale as a response to ubiquitous weaponized advertising.

Book: Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock

The modern era of social networking isn’t about social concerns but business concerns…human curation returns to the fore in its primacy: newsletters, list management, etc.

Why is it that certain tools and practices “work” for work, and some don’t?
How certain ill-conceived collaboration software recreates the scaling problems of cruiseship tourism’s effects on local economies.

Anywhere-ism and “The horrible sameness of the places we’re working these days”

The paradox of blocking out open-office distractions with recordings of people talking in cafés.

“If you want to be creative, turn the lights down. You are more creative if you have high ceilings and dark. So if you take all that away, which is usually what they do in open offices…”

>>> Ten Work Skills for the Post-Normal Era

Laszlo Bach at Google using a data-driven approach to correlate skills with work success…not Ivy League degrees, not ability to solve certain IQ test type problems…

“BOUNDLESS CURIOSITY is the #1 skill for the future. The most creative people are insatiably curious. They want to know what works and why. And so that’s the skill you should seek. If you’re not naturally insatiably curious, then you should learn the techniques and skills involved with that and practice that so that you’re acting as if you’re insatiably curious, even though it’s a learned and not innate characteristic.”

How curiosity leads to unexpected second-order insights in at-first “unrelated” areas.

Bill Taylor, founder of Fast Company Magazine: four styles of leadership useful today.

The leader as a learning zealot.

The posthuman workplace: collaboration with radically other entities, be they AIs or transgenic persons.

The future of work looks like freestyle chess.

How and why to be a “deep generalist.”

“There’s still a lot of the Bronze Age in how typical companies are run…Bronze Age thinking is still 70% of companies.”

Emergent Leadership 21st Century Management, and Liquid Democracy.

AI and technological unemployment – a kind of “tragedy of the commons” as we each try to do the best thing for our organizations and race to the bottom.

Book: Amy Goldstein, Janesville

The collision of AI, climate change, and the collapse of globalist neoliberalism.

Book: William Irwin Thompson, Evil and World Order

“You have to start thinking about things at the watershed level. When you’re thinking about geography, it can’t just be the outlines of nation states, which are the remnants of old empires and other kinds of craziness. It has to have some logical relationship to the actual world, and that means city states, watersheds, and so on. And when you have that mindset and start to see through that lens, well, the desire of the Catalonian people to have their own state – it seems like an inexorable direction, and the notion that the EU is resisting that, fighting it, well…they’re fighting the future.”

The end of trucking and the inevitable riots.

Book: Project Hieroglyph, edited by Neal Stephenson

Using science fiction instead of futurist scenarios to make different futures truly palpable.

Three Visions of the future: Humania, Neo-Feudalistan, & “Just Horrible.”

“You can’t talk about the future of work without talking about the future in general, and the future in general is not just more of what we have today. It’s certainly not what we had in 1970.”