UPDATE! www.slackonomics.com is live
In June 2008, my book — Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction — will finally be published!
The premise of Slackonomics is that not since the industrial revolution has a generation been so whipsawed by the economy, from McJobs to outsourcing, mind-boggling income inequality and two unprecedented back-to-back bubbles (with more to come?). But that isn’t the whole story. In the subtitle is the phrase “creative destruction,” the dynamic when an old economic order is upended by a new one. Stagnant industries are destroyed and people get hurt in the churn, but creative ideas and new industries – driven by entrepreneurs – are able to flourish. This happened during the industrial revolution and it’s happening again with the information/technology revolution. In other words, creative destruction two-point-oh.
But even that isn’t the whole story; it’s more like the backstory. The unique cultural experience that comes from living in a time of creative destruction is really what the book is about. All the cultural trends, lifestyle choices and sociological circumstances of the post-boomer generation are being driven by two seemingly contradictory forces that define the current era: economic insecurity on the one hand and the unleashing of human potential as a result of advanced technology on the other. This contradiction has deeply affected everyday life for this generation, from how we work, where we live, how we play, when we marry and have children, to our attitudes about love, humor, friendship, happiness and personal fulfillment.
I will also argue that it will be up to Generation X (right now, approximately aged 30-42) to bring the economy back from the brink, and that diminished expectations (or to put it another way: less is more) could very well be exactly the right sensibility as this generation leads the way into the 21st century.
The origins of the idea came from an article I wrote for the New York Observer in January, 2004 entitled: Generation X: Born Under a Bad Economic Sign (PDF version). Following the publication of the article, I was interviewed on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show (NPR), which you can listen to by clicking here and scrolling down to the third item, Forever Broke.
I will be launching a website (with a blog component) related to the book closer to publication date.