Social Media, the DIY Movement, and the Economy…

by Dan Dashnaw in Main

3173938037_12ec003913_mDo you handle a wider range of tasks by yourself today then you did a few years ago? I know that I do, and that most of my friends certainly do. Heck, even my parents are surprising me in this department. I guess it makes sense that as this democratization of information continues to evolve at light speed, more of us are grabbing the reigns and expanding our horizons ‘DIY style’. It’s the logical progression, and a darn good sign that we’re getting collectively smarter.

Nothing seems to pronounce this movement more profoundly for me then today’s scope of television programming. DIY shows are literally everywhere on the tube right now, as the rise of ‘reality’ television coupled with the socially hip, eco-friendly green movement has inspired a natural explosion within this category. People seem to love to consuming this stuff, and I completely understand why they do. ‘Know-how’ is an easy sell to people like me.

After all, if you factor in the economic concerns that we’re all dealing with today, the cost-saving core basis of DIY-ing makes more obvious sense than ever. Why not save a few bucks while simultaneously learning a useful skill in order to cross a pending (and potentially nagging) task off of your list? It’s seemingly becoming a smarter and easier choice for people to make these days. The DIY approach lines up in theory and in practicality with the fundamental shifts that appear to be fueling our collective evolution. At least in my mind it does.

So, here’s what I’m wondering: how will the greater economy and individual income levels be affected by this rapidly developing shift towards greater self sufficiency? As more of us begin to self-educate, grab the reigns and take on projects and skills ourselves that we used to outsource, what are the longer throw implications for the greater economy (and society) as a whole?  Uh-oh. I sense a hefty conundrum boiling underneath all of this…

For example: let’s say that one of the toilets in my house suddenly stops working. Instead of calling a plumber, I do a bit of research online which reveals a simple fix. I run out to Home Depot to grab a few parts on the cheap, and then return home to perform the operation in sync with the comfort and support of a YouTube clip. Kudos - well done, right? Thought so. But what about the plumber I didn’t call? What about every other professional middleman that I’ve been able to swiftly replace with just my own two hands and the internet? What about the suffering global economy that we’re all supposed to be pumping our hard-earned money into? (and what about ‘Joe the Plumber’?) ;-)

So here’s my question. What will happen as people like myself begin to take on more and more of everything ourselves in the name of efficiency and self-actualization, in the midst of all of this readily available and directly applicable information? It would surely seem that we would need less money to survive on individually, since we would be spending less and less cash on external resources to help fulfill our needs. Right?

It certainly seems as though this progressive and empowering application of information must be a good thing…

…although I think I’ve accidentally run headfirst into the heavily-understated limitations of capitalism, yet again…

I’m curious though - what are your thoughts here?  Economists and thinkers, please educate me in the comments below.

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7 Responses to “Social Media, the DIY Movement, and the Economy…”

  1. [...] Information, the DIY Explosion, and the Economy. | Dan Dashnaw [...]

  2. Victorseo

    05. Mar, 2009

    When you eliminate jobs, people don’t stop eating. They get creative. Sometimes they create some pretty cool stuff… so they can eat.
    Many in the DIY arena are inventing DIY ways to get a paycheck, or make more money….so they can pay the plumber

  3. Dan Dashnaw

    05. Mar, 2009

    Exactly…

    I’m going to write a follow-up to touch upon the innovation that is often inspired by circumstances like these, as this is a subject I’m very interested in…

    That being said, it really does come down to our respective ‘bottom lines’. Amazing times, indeed. There’s a fair amount of yin and yang to contend with, that’s for sure. ;-)

    All the best,

    …Dan

  4. Doc Yankee

    05. Mar, 2009

    Dan, this is a good thread you have going on -in your mind at least…literally hundreds of videographers have talked to me about their worries, since the democratization of video production processes and the onslaught of cheap and great equipment has put their own livelihood on the virtual chopping block. So…in the midst of this whole new DIY movement…where does that leave YOU?

  5. Dan Dashnaw

    05. Mar, 2009

    Hello Doc…

    Great question. I’m not really threatened by the tools becoming more and more accessible, I’m excited by it. I see it this way: There will always be people who’d rather outsource things like video production (or web design, etc) so that they can spend their own time and resources doing what they do best. Will this number of prospective clients decrease as we move forward? Perhaps. However, things like the increase in the total number of businesses looking to get video made for the web, etc. will likely offset this to a degree. In terms of web video, we’re really just getting started.

    Will a number of video production pros drop off the map in the near future? Most likely - but this isn’t necessarily a totally bad thing. The first to disappear will be the guys who have been charging a premium for marginal work and relying on the gap in technological understanding as a means to justify their function. Whenever there’s a ‘technological democratization’ of sorts like this, the end result is usually a shakedown which leaves only the valuable standing. Bring it on, I say…

    Aside from that, I also feel pretty confident that my range of web geek skills will seriously help me to weather the transition. Many of the very videographers I was talking about in my last paragraph fall way short when it comes to anything other then shooting and editing video. I’m hoping that my combination of skills here will continue to serve as a differentiator as things continue to unwind. I can’t help but think that things like talking about this here with you may help me tremendously. ;-)

  6. Lynn

    17. Jul, 2011

    Hi,
    I’m a student at Northwestern for its summer journalism program and I’m doing an article on DIY home improvement.
    This is a great thinking piece and I was hoping to quote a part of it for my story, if thats okay with you?
    It may appear in a high school newspaper.
    Thanks

  7. Dan Dashnaw

    17. Jul, 2011

    Hello Lynn. Absolutely - go right ahead. Can you possibly update me with a link to the finished article once it’s ready? I’d love to see the context. ;-)

    All the best,

    …Dan

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