I’m very interested in ways of increasing leisure, so when I saw mention of The Four-Hour Workweek, I naturally rushed to check it out. It turns out to be about “Outsourcing your Life” by hiring a fleet of remote executive assistants from India, to handle your email, pay your bills, run interference between you and your wife (really! ) and generally to replicate the archetypal “office wife” secretary, right down to the 1950s gender stereotypes.
That wasn’t what I had in mind at all, but just after seeing the link, I got an email asking about a presentation I gave last year, and which I had totally forgotten. It only took me a few seconds to find it (one reason I don’t want a remote EA), and to recall that it’s an improved version of this old blog post which reads as if it was written just before I joined Crooked Timber. But I haven’t got around to turning into an article and probably never will.
I’ve got more things like this than I can count, lying around on the hard drive (and now in the cloud as well) but most of them will never be seen by anyone who didn’t come to the session where I gave the presentation. After reading the outsourcing stuff, it struck me that maybe there is someone on the Internet who could take these slides, chat to me a bit about them, add some ideas of their own, and turn them into jointly-authored articles.
I’ve never seen anyone else do this, but that doesn’t prove much. Academic prestige these days goes mostly to those who follow what ecologists call a K-strategy: a small number of high-quality offspring, where “high-quality” = “published in highly ranked journal”. And the narrower the specialisation, the better, so a good knowledge of the relevant literature, the tastes of editors of the key journals, and so on, comes with the territory. For K-strategy people, second-tier publications are worse than valueless, so the kind of thing I’m talking about would make no sense.
As ought to be pretty obvious by now, I’m an r-strategy follower. I produce lots of stuff on lots of topics, without polishing it too much. My idea is that it’s impossible to tell in advance what is going to produce valuable insights and what isn’t. the r-strategy works OK for me, but it does result in a lot of half-finished projects, that could maybe be turned into something worthwhile by the right co-author. Anyway, I’ve put the presentation that provoked all this here. The slides and the blogpost linked above should give you the general idea. If it sounds like something to work on, get in touch.