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"Work." Is that a good word or a bad word?

Taken in a general sense, I think it's a pretty good word. Where would we be without work? In a personal sense, however, matters aren't quite so clear.

As it happens, I enjoy what I do. I was lucky enough to have a family who helped me gain the opportunity to find out what I wanted to do to earn my daily bread. And I was equally lucky to stumble onto a field for which I not only have some talent but which feels completely natural to me, as though I was born to it.

Even so, it's work. It's a job. No matter how much I like the work itself, there are always other things that must be dealt with in order to get the work done.

My Views

As I see it, there are four separate but related aspects to doing a job. Specifically, they are: the Application (what the labor is intended to produce), the Skill (the general professional ability applied), the Tools (those devices and processes whose use is required), and Administration (those external requirements which must be satisfied in order to do the actual job).

The table below summarizes three examples of labor decomposed into the four aspects:

APPLICATIONDetached home, SkyscraperNovel, JournalismUtilities, Games
SKILLCarpentry, ElectricalCharacter Development, Information GatheringC++, FORTRAN
TOOLSHammer, BlueprintsDictionary, Word processorCompiler, Editor, Operating System
ADMINISTRATIONBuilding codes, Union rulesContract law, Editorial requirementsSource code control, Development metrics

Work, then, is not merely activity--it's activity for a purpose. Those who work are only rewarded if their labor adds value. But how do you measure value? Yes, eventually the market will decide... but markets are large-scale processes; they can't tell you precisely how much to pay this or that worker in particular.

That's where the four aspects of a job come into play. By splitting up and categorizing the parts of a job, by definining what it is that a "job" entails, it becomes possible to measure performance. This allows an employer to compare one individual's effort against another in the same functional area, and by doing so arrive at a reasonable rate of compensation--a function of "value."

None of this is particularly new thinking, I'm sure. A trained economist (as opposed to a curious amateur like myself) could probably provide scholarly references and commentary on the constitution of "value." What I'm not sure has been proposed before is the particular division of the functional aspects of labor shown in the table above.

So I thought, "What the heck."




Yahoo Résumés Page Yahoo's list of job-finding organizations.

1988-1989 Occupational Outlook Handbook a detailed hierarchical listing of occupations, including work environment, future prospects, and typical entry-level earnings.

Career Info lots of links to career tools, from the U.S. Dept. of the Interior (including the Holland occupational categories).

Telecommuting Jobs a telecommuting jobs resource page.

Gil Gordon/Telecommuting a site with information on telecommuting, not just for those who think they'd like it but with research information as well.

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