Beyond knowledge?

Aparna Jairam
Shirley Turner
The February issue of Wired features an article on offshoring by Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation. Wired's story, entitled The New Face of the Silicon Age, might instead have been called Free Agent World. Here's a stunning exchange between Pink and New Jersey state senator Shirley Turner:

I toss a slur across her desk. I call her a protectionist.

"Oh, and I'm proud of it," she responds. "I wear that badge with honor. I am a protectionist. I want to protect America. I want to protect jobs for Americans."

"But isn't part of this country's vitality its ability to make these kinds of changes?" I counter. "We've done it before - going from farm to factory, from factory to knowledge work, and from knowledge work to whatever's next."

She looks at me. Then she says, "I'd like to know where you go from knowledge." [Wired: Kiss Your Cubicle Goodbye]

Where indeed? I think protectionism is the wrong approach. And I think Dick Cook's ideas are right. But let's not kid ourselves. What's at stake here isn't just call-center jobs, or mind-numbing code-writing jobs, or accounting jobs. Creativity, innovation and hard work are the levers that move the global economy, and anybody, anywhere, will be able to grasp those levers.

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