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Fascinating questions, and big issues. Scary, too. I reckon orgs would like to have fewer people doing the tough stuff, and automating the rest. What're the societal implications?

However, I wouldn't put any faith in 'expert systems', they've been pretty well debunked. Performance support systems are the go, but they may be clerk tools, as Gardner suggests.

I guess one focus is how to have people doing more of not only what they're good at, but at what they want to do. Thanks for sharing the thoughts!

It all comes back to how we are assessing "output" by knowledge workers. For the most part, we still use an industrial measure (in the case of knowledge workers, quantifiable results such as "production" quotas (how can numbers of customers served be equated with the creation of branding communities based on customer interaction).

"Blue collar" always equated to "lower pay". Blue collar means they wore a uniform and got dirty, taking direction. In the last decade, as there is a larger gap between the haves and have nots in the US, those in power have tried to standardize knowledge so they can maintain control and justify lower wages ("higher productivity" in economic terms). In that case, many knowledge workers are the new blue collar workers. Standardizing processes takes the knowledge out of knowledge work. However, the result is a drop in innovation (true innovation, not tweaking of current products)and a growing divide between the haves and have nots.

I hear nothing in the langugage you're using to describe the fate of white collar work that describes any work I've ever done. Perhaps I'm just lucky.

On the other hand, I've had the frustration of trying to deal with a customer service issue where the clerks seemed powerless to find any solution to the problem and move it through the system. Ah, if I could direct my payment to them to be used for organization wide staff training, I certainly would!

Substitute Crawford for Gardner and you're off to a better start.

I think almost every position can (and probably always has) benefited from scanning, filtering, and connecting. Doing so allows individuals to identify new ways to make micro-improvements as well as see opportunities for larger innovations.

Whether or not that behavior is appropriately valued by employers is an entirely different thing though.

The term "knowledge worker" goes back so far - is there a new term used to decribe this concept?

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