My notes on “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future” by Seth Godin
The law of the Mechanical Turk
- The law: “Any project, if broken down into sufficiently small, predictable parts, can be accomplished for awfully close to free.”
- Eg Jimmy Wales led the tiny team at Wikipedia that destroyed the greatest reference book of all time. And almost all of them worked for free.
- The Encyclopaedia Britannica was started in 1770 and is maintained by a staff of more than a hundred full-time editors. Over the last 250 years, it has probably cost more than a hundred million dollars to build and edit.
- Wikipedia, on the other hand, is many times bigger, far more popular, and significantly more up-to-date, and it was built for almost free. No single person could have done this. No team of a thousand, in fact. But by breaking the development or articles into millions of one-sentence or one-paragraph projects, Wikipedia too advantage of the law of the Mechanical Turk. Instead of relying on a handful of well-paid people calling themselves professionals. Wikipedia thrives by using the loosely coordinated work of millions of knowledgeable people, each happy to contribute a tiny slice of the whole.
- The internet has turned white-collar work into something akin to building a pyramid in Egypt. No one could build the entire thing, but anyone can haul one brick into place.
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