If you can’t make up your mind what business area you want to occupy, why not become an Originative Intellectual Worker, a phrase coined by H.G. Wells.
It is said that most blogs are read exclusively by other bloggers. At first sight that may not seem very remarkable. After all, there are more than 100 million blogs out there and like generally attracts like. But at a deeper level we’re seeing an irresistible convergence. A convergence of supplier and buyer, of producer and consumer. Communication is becoming conversation, not lecture. Big Media is downsizing into widely-distributed personal media.
Essentially, what we’re now observing is the whittling away of the conventional categories that have sustained literature, journalism and, more recently, broadcasting, for centuries. Top writers do still write and let their agents and publishers manage the rest. But they are becoming a smaller and smaller minority, held in thrall by the big guns of marketing and the “blockbuster” mentality.
Increasingly — down there in the long tail — writers typeset and copycheck their own material themselves, and often publish it on a blog, or through on-demand printers. They are now the largest revenue earners for the new open-market mechanisms, like Amazon and eBay.
At the limit, as the mathematicians say, writers are also photographers, graphic artists, publishers, and the principal marketers of their work. Writers are no longer just writers but, in H.G. Wells’s term, “originative intellectual workers”.
Finding a top-gun agent or publisher is all but impossible these days. On the other hand, the originative intellectual worker (OIW) quickly masters a skill-set allowing proficiency across crafts and technologies. The OIW emerges on both sides of the track, as producer and consumer. In blogging it’s almost impossible to separate the two. With the demise of Excite, the long tail is beginning to wag the beasts of medialand. The world will never be the same again.
Addendum : Here are two extracts which refer to the term “originative intellectual workers”. The first is from H.G.’s autobiography :
“Most individual creatures since life began have been ‘up against it’ all the time, have been driven continually by fear and cravings, have had to respond to the unresting antagonisms of their surroundings, and they have found a sufficient and sustaining interest in the drama of immediate events provided for them by these demands. Essentially, their living was continuous adjustment to happenings. Good hap and ill hap filled it entirely. They hungered and ate and they desired and loved; they were amused and attracted, they pursued or escaped, they were overtaken and they died.
“But with the dawn of human foresight and with the appearance of a great surplus of energy in life such as the last century or so has revealed, there has been a progressive emancipation of the attention from everyday urgencies. What was once the whole of life, has become to an increasing extent, merely the background of life. People can ask now what would have been an extraordinary question five hundred years ago. They can say, ‘Yes, you earn a living, you support a family, you love and hate, but what do you do? . . .’
“In studies and studios and laboratories, administrative bureaus and exploring expeditions, a new world is germinated and develops. It is not a repudiation of the old but a vast extension of it, in a racial synthesis into which individual aims will ultimately be absorbed. We originative intellectual workers are reconditioning human life.”
Here is an extract from Colin Wilson’s Beyond the Outsider:
“H.G. Wells had another explanation for the unsatisfactoriness [many of us feel with our lot in life]. Men like himself, he says — ‘originative intellectual workers’ — find normal human existence boring because they long for a more meaningful kind of existence. ‘We are like early amphibians, so to speak, struggling out of the waters that have hitherto covered our kind, into the air, seeking to breathe in a new fashion and to emancipate ourselves from … necessities. At last it becomes a case of air or nothing. But the new land has not definitely emerged from the waters, and we swim distressfully in an element we wish to abandon.’”
Interesting stuff, and just as relevant today, and applicable, I would say, to the modern world.