The Gig Is Up.

So Let's Call It What It Is.

Funny, this is the second time in as many months that my weekly topic has intersected with Om Malik.

“Silicon Valley is good at coming up with bullshit marketing phrases like ‘gig economy’ that try to attach a tech premium to some pretty basic common sense stuff.”

… Om Malik (Read his whole piece.)

Jig, Whirlygig, Gigolo … and many other words share the etymology of ‘gig’ (which by-the-way is a 13th-century word) and not one of them strikes me as a word that I would associate with something of ‘meaning’ or ‘monetary value’. The words are generally frivolous, fun, flighty and definitely not associated with ‘making a buck’ (other than gambling) - until you get to the usage associated with performers that started a little less than 100 years ago. ( I published a blog post that goes into a little more history if you are interested. )

Then (according to London’s Financial Times)

The phrase ‘gig economy’ was coined at the height of the financial crisis in early 2009, when the unemployed made a living by gigging, or working several part-time jobs, wherever they could. 

So What’s The Problem?

Ask any musician whether they enjoy gigs. The answer will generally be no. Sure listen to a famous musician remembering the ‘halcyon days’, you’ll get a little bit of rewritten history, but generally speaking, the shared experience is closer to that of the Blues Brothers …

The Next Gig is Gonna Be Dynamite … HUGE - you’ll see.

… John Belushi in the role of ‘Jake Blues’

So why is so much energy pure into the idea that The Gig Economy is so wonderful?

It is not ‘The Future Of Work’, so let’s call it for what it is.

It is a way …

  • to pay (little and definitely less than the prior alternative)

  • people (without employing them and most of them have little alternative)

  • to do tasks that you don’t want to do (and right now can’t be done for less - but watch this space and watch even those people get replaced).

  • to line the pockets of the few (investors and senior management)

… because this is no sharing economy, this is the shareholding economy on steroids.

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