Planet of the Apps
Have Americans contracted their souls out into the digital ether?
The Outsourced Self:
Intimate Life in Market Times
by Arlie Russell Hochschild
$27.00 List Price
In his manual for a better (or, at least, for his own) life, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, self-help guru and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Timothy Ferriss outlines his secrets to a productive and wealthy life. One of the book’s central tenets is to “outsource everything.” Ferriss suggests we hire a series of concierges to triage our correspondences, arrange travel and restaurant reservations, contact old friends, and handle routine support tasks in our lives. Ferriss contracts with concierge companies in India to handle much of his data flow. He suggests we hire local people to take our clothes to the cleaners, scrub our floors, and cook for us.
Ferriss has become a guru to the geek set, as I witnessed at his book-signing event for his hefty fitness manual, The 4-Hour Body, at the 2011 South by Southwest Interactive meeting in Austin, Texas. A line of more than one hundred remarkably unkempt, unfit young men waited to shake Ferriss’s hand and thank him for releasing them from the bonds of the full-time working grind. They can’t all be working four-hour weeks, I thought. My understanding of the work life in the tech sector leads me to believe that retrieving the forty-hour week would be a major personal, if not indeed a political, victory. Ferriss greeted fanboys for more than an hour that day, leaving him a mere three more hours of actual work before the fun began. As if to emphasize his mastery over his life and the better times he had waiting for him upon his release from the event, Ferriss held hands with a striking young woman