The End Run


Or: is a vote for the status quo below-the-line an implicit vote for the status quo above-the-line?

Gut check: does the film industry exist to tell great stories, or does it exist it employ a large number of artisans?

A little background. I’ve heard this question, or some version of it, many times:

What Alexis is asking—I think—is this: “how can we disrupt stuff but in a way that no one loses their job?”

(My apologies to Mr. Van Hurkman if I’ve mischaracterized his tweet. If so, let this stand in as a proxy for a commonly-raised objection.)

Not only am I sure that this goal impossible, I’m not so sure that it’s desirable. A vote to maintain the status quo below-the-line is an implicit vote to maintain the status quo above-the-line.

Any meaningful change will necessarily destroy some jobs. It also creates new ones. But more importantly, change creates new opportunities. It uncovers opportunity costs that we never realized we were paying. True disruption unleashes bottled-up creativity.

For example, we can probably agree that a wave of digital cameras—from the RED One to the GoPro—destroyed a lot of jobs at Kodak. But it also empowered hundreds of thousands of new filmmakers. And most of them would otherwise have never gotten started in the first place.

Was that trade-off worth it?

Do we want better stories, or do we all want to keep our jobs?

Not too long ago, 99% of the human race was dedicated full-time to cultivating food. Little House On The Prairie is an endless litany of churning butter, stringing onions, trapping animals, threshing wheat, and generally just trying very hard to not starve to death. And only 200 years ago, a single shirt cost $3500.

Today, a very small fraction of humans are capable of feeding the other 99.999% of us. Was that trade-off worth it?

Is it the job of the agricultural industry to employ as many farmers as possible? Or to feed humanity?

Hey, while you're here ...

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I build Endcrawl and work at HBO. Sometimes I'm wrong about things on the Internet. Feel free to point some of that out on Twitter, or down in the comments section.

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