The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
The Jobs of the Future

The jobs of the future are already here. Businesses like the picture-sharing phone application Instagram are opening the floodgates to innovation. The NYT reports:

These entrepreneurs have realized that they can piggyback on the popularity of Instagram, which has more than 100 million users, and create their own businesses, some of which have turned out to be quite profitable. They join a long line of innovators who have found creative ways to build new services on top of existing sites and platforms. […]

Some early users of the service are leveraging their expertise and sizable followings and starting consulting agencies, advising big-name brands on how best to use Instagram themselves.

It wasn’t all that long ago that phone apps were limited to video games. Now they’re changing the way entire industries operate. Those in advertising and retail are taking advantage of new and exciting platforms:

Since its early days, Instagram has invited developers and entrepreneurs to tap its technology and build their own applications on its shoulders, like ways to view galleries of Instagram pictures on the Web instead of a phone. And it has not tried to charge for this privilege.

Kartik Hosanagar, an associate professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who studies online commerce, said there was a new breed of “social research and development” emerging, one that lent itself to a tremendous — but risky — opportunity for opportunistic and creative entrepreneurs.

“The small guys take the risk, and if they find something that sticks, the larger company can seize on it and take a cut,” he said. “It’s hard to predict in advance, but that’s the beauty and opportunity of a platform and why we see so many businesses built on other platforms.”

The digital age is connecting entrepreneurs and consumers in faster, cheaper, and more creative ways. Starting a business is always going to involve risk and uncertainty, but the IT revolution is making it cheaper and easier for people to give it a shot. At a time when the job market for college grads is weak, and graduate degrees are becoming more expensive and less effectual, internet-based entrepreneurialism is looking more and more attractive.

Via Meadia’s advice to budding tycoons: think outside the mainstream institutions. A whole new age of small business is rising fast. And to the Luddites who can’t imagine a world filled with good jobs as manufacturing employment joins agricultural employment as a dying institution: the world of the future will be richer in opportunity and offer more and more interesting work than anything we have ever seen in the past.

The best is yet to come.

Published on December 15, 2012 3:15 pm