We’re All Graduating into the Connection Economy Now

It’s all in the name: the connection economy.

It used to be that you went to a good school, got good grades, made some good connections — and, if you did all that, you could be reasonably sure of a good job.

The upshot was that you could effectively focus on doing your thing, whatever that was.

In my case, it was (and, in a different way, still is) public service. And, when I started college a little more than a decade ago, I thought that meant it was OK for me to say that I didn’t do commerce and I didn’t do creativity and — except for in-person networking — I didn’t really do connection, either.

So I missed a whole bunch of important things about how life works now. I didn’t understand the internet business models that now dominate the economy. The first time I heard of Twitter was in a Washington Post op-ed I was reading (in a print copy of the newspaper!) over breakfast in the cafeteria. Et cetera.

Most of all, I kept following the old logic model: go to class, learn what worked, find a job and try to repeat more of what worked than what didn’t. History is extremely important, but it’s also important to have some sense of what’s going on now.

That’s what I missed, and that’s what I’ve been slowly trying to make up for, largely on my own time and almost entirely outside the classroom, since I finally began to see it.

We’re all connected, and we’re all in the economy. Together, those two things mean we’re bound up in society. And both society and the economy are eagerly waiting for all of us to connect the dots and make something interesting.

It helps to know your history if you’re going to connect the right dots and make your interesting work intelligible. But making interesting connections, today, is where all the value is.

And if making things better is your thing, it’s the best chance you’ve got to do just that.