The Age of the Independent Creator

I love inequality. When I’m on the bottom end of it, I like that there’s a scale that hints at the upper bounds of potential, and when I’m at the higher end of it, I like seeing the progress I’ve made. I have a tough time imagining the function of ambition and hustle in a world where everyone is always equal in all respects.

When I was in high school, I had a few friends who were obsessed with the idea of nanotechnology. I knew nothing about it, but they told me that eventually a machine would exist that would be able to create any physical object the owner desired.

The idea of everyone being able to have everything they wanted struck panic into my heart, as it threatened my beloved inequality. Sure, there were things that I wanted, but I liked wanting them — it was fuel.

We don’t have machines that can build us anything yet, but we do have machines with which we can build a great number of intangible things. These books, web sites, programs, videos, etc., are routinely sold for thousands, or even millions of dollars. They’re build with computers that cost a fraction of their value, and require no raw materials.

What I didn’t realize in high school was that once the means of production becomes trivially inexpensive, a product’s value shifts from raw materials to something much more exciting: human creativity. 

We’re living in the age of the independent creator. Computers are cheap, and software is cheap or free. The knowledge necessary to build a wide number of valuable things is available for free online. In other words, an empire can be created with no noteworthy inputs other than inspiration and hustle. You don’t even have to be in any particular place, or in any one place at all. Things can be built in teams, but they can also be built alone. Creation has become a very pure experience, free of any external hindrance.

I mention all this because I don’t see nearly as many people taking advantage of it as I’d expect. Any ambitious person who is not creating something right now is making a huge error. Maybe things will stay the same in the future, or even improve, but there’s no denying that right now is a golden age for creators.

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Also – it’s roughly the sixth anniversary of this blog. I started it to log my polyphasic sleep, and it’s now grown to be an important part of my life. Besides giving me an outlet to write, it’s connected me with a lot of amazing people. Thank you for being part of it.

The photo is my “office” for the past couple weeks, on the cruise ship.

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