Think of this as Volume 16, Number 24 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
I am not one of them.
The reason is my personal economy tends to follow what's going on in the wider world. I did great in the late 1990s, horrible in the early 2000s. I grew back later in the decade but then fell off during the Great Recession.
Now, it seems, I'm back on top again. Not because I'm a genius. But because today is a day when talent is in demand.
Talent is in demand when there is money to be made, and there is money to be made in Internet content these days. Web site owners have figured out how to monetize traffic. They know that if they get X per page view they can afford to pay ½ X for someone to fill the page. That was my deal at ZDNet. That's my deal at Seeking Alpha.
Solving this problem of monetizing traffic was a big step in the Internet's development. It has gone unnoticed by the media because the old media didn't solve it. New media solved it. Internet media solved it.
The result, in the news business, is we have these “new” sites like TheDailyBeast.com and Politico.com, actually founded by old media, making tons of money alongside Internet-fresh outfits like Huffingtonpost.com, combining content with community to maximize page views, then monetizing those mass produced page views.
Newspapers insist that these companies are stealing their stuff. Yet they happily make deals with these same companies to republish their stuff, because they do in fact get paid for that. If you see a New York Times story through MSNBC.com, or a WallStreetJournal story at its own AllthingsD site, the story's reach doesn't diminish that much. Columnists go on TV to tell people what they've written for the newspaper, so again the reach remains.
Newspapers figure that they can charge people to read their stuff, figuring they can get around their own paywalls by making these side deals. To an extent they are right. But they would do much better if they could extend their own reach, grabbing the discussion traffic, then seeking data and funds from readers for added value – daily e-mail newsletters, live chats, exclusive video, etc. etc. etc. Only by getting back their reach among readers – the key audience as they define it – can they make themselves compelling to advertisers. So the bottom line is that, over time, these paywalls are going to disappear again, once the papers figure out what they should have been doing 10 years ago, what DFH bloggers like me wrote 15 years ago.
Across the board, however, talent is getting its day. People who can deliver results are in very high demand across the Internet, and elsewhere as well. If you're working on technology that can get solar or biofuel costs below the cost of drilling new wells, you're in high demand. If you're involved in mass customization – making – or robotics for mass production, you're in demand. If you're a programmer with up-to-date skills, you're in demand.
This kind of demand happens at the start of an economic cycle, not at its end. It's happening now across the economy. The current hiring is going to result in more hiring, at lower skill levels, over time. Talent creates jobs around it. Maybe it will be too late for you personally, because many intellectual pursuits based on mass production, like teaching, are going to lose their markets under the relentless march of technology. Maybe you're a middle manager, working in a suburban office – that's not where the future lies. It lies in cities, in intellectual ferment, on college campuses and in the areas around them.
If you are unique, if you offer skills for the new economy, you are in demand. Your future is secure. If you aren't unique, make yourself so. Find something you care about, deeply, and use the Internet to learn all about it. Start delivering your own views, slowly, and start networking based on those views. Learn, speak, network – you can do it all on this medium, from your desk or the nearest library or coffee shop.
Find your passion, turn it into talent, and you will find work in this economy. I can practically guarantee it. But it all starts with you. With ordinary thoughts being a commodity, thanks to the Internet, your future lies in unique thoughts, in making yourself the only possible solution to a problem you define.