Ming the Mechanic:
Play in a Renaissance Society

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Play in a Renaissance Society2005-11-30 22:34
13 comments
by Flemming Funch

Douglas Rushkoff, except from a forthcoming book, Get Back In The Box: Innovation From The Inside Out, found on BoingBoing:
In a renaissance society driven by the need to forge connections, play is the ultimate system for social currency. It's a way to try on new roles without committing to them for life. It's a way to test strategies of engagement without being defined by them forever. It’s a way to rise above the seemingly high stakes of almost any situation and see it as the game it probably is. It’s a way to make one’s enterprise a form of social currency from the beginning, and to guarantee a collaborative, playful, and altogether more productive path toward continual innovation.

And this play begins at work....

In their crude efforts to make work more fun, however, most companies are missing the point. Employers are busy installing foosball tables, hiring chefs, and building gyms for their increasingly disgruntled employees, but these are just ways of trying to make a bad situation more tolerable. (or to coax employees into spending long hours away from home) A foosball table is not the sign of a fun place to work; it's a glaring symbol that work is not fun and employees need a break. Why would they rather be playing foosball than doing whatever it is they've been hired to do?

Many have argued that it’s immature and idealistic to believe that everyone,or even a majority of people,should be allowed to enjoy their jobs. In the words of one dark New York TimesOpEd piece, "We're still just means of production....Work is often more bearable when we don’t, in addition to money, expect it always to deliver happiness." The same might be said for life itself, particularly when our duty to perform an economic function extends from what we can produce to what we can consume. Both work and life should be much more than "bearable."

Luckily, renaissances celebrate immaturity and idealism.

Ah, yes, play! Of course we should be able to enjoy our lives and our work, as it really ought to be the same thing. Crank up the renaissance!


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13 comments

2 Dec 2005 @ 18:23 by Playing and learning @24.235.232.198 : Seems to me
that playing around with things, tools, ideas, code, etc, is the primary way that I've learned to do stuff in my entire life. I was wondering why exactly it was that I got into doing computer stuff for money and the only answer I can come up with is that I was exposed to them (starting with a borrowed Apple II) often as a young child, and got to play around with them for fun, and consequently learned enough to do some useful things with them (when sufficiently motivated.). Now, where can I go play with welding tools without having to own them - that certainly was an opportunity I never had as a kid.  


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