Fandom and general geekery is a place with a plethora of talent.  Epic fanfics that take a year to write, incredible art, extensive websites, huge conventions, fantastic cosplay – all are a testimony to the talents in fandom cultures.  Indeed, one of the motivations for this blog is my desire to do my part to help the talented people out there find ways to use their talents and make a living at them.

However, for fans and non-fans alike, there is a set of skills that are
indispensable to survival in the job world and the world in general.
That is an understanding of economic and related issues.  Or in short,
no matter what kind of professional you become, you’re going to need to
become an amateur economist.

In this case I’m not talking about personal budget and financial
planning – though those are skills that you’ll certainly need to
develop – but an understanding of the economy of one’s industry, one’s
country, and the world.

Having a good economic understanding is a way to get the big picture and understand how it can impact one’s life:

  • An understanding of the economy of an industry that you work in lets
    you see trends that can affect you positively in negatively.
  • An understanding of the economy of your state/province lets you
    understand trends in taxes, demographics, and businesses that will
    affect you – and lets you see if an inter-state/province move may be
  • An understanding of the economy of your country functions much like
    an understanding of your state/province, but also provides an even
    wider scope.
  • An understanding of the global economy lets you see even larger-scale
    trends, and also understand economic trends that will impact you, but
    may not be obvious from a smaller scale.
  • You will begin to understand economic trends and policies on a variety of levels and how they affect you.
  • You’ll be better able to predict future events.

The benefits I feel are obvious.  However, economic knowledge is held
back by two factors: it seems hard to acquire, and at times it is very,
very, very boring.  I’m not sure which is the bigger challenge.

First of all, economic knowledge is not hard to acquire.  Becoming an
economist as a profession is difficult – and I’d say becoming one who
actually knows what’s going on is even harder.  But basic economic
knowledge is easily at your fingertips.

The fastest way I’ve found to acquire economic knowledge is to simply
jump into the internet sources – and for me that’s blogs and news
sites.  Locate ones that provide useful analysis, information, and news
and make a point of reading them – or load their RSS feeds into a
newsreader.  Usually you’ll pick up things surprisingly quickly.

A few sources I can recommend:

As for addressing the boredom factor of economic issues, that can be tricky.  Here’s a few tips:

  • If you’re a news junkie, like myself, just start paying attention to
    economic news.  It’s a soap opera at times and will easily become part
    of your addiction.
  • Follow news in your industry – and your desired industry – closely.
    The personal interest factor both helps keep your attention and make
    the news relevant.
  • When you read economic news, pick an article or articles that looks
    like it will impact you and take some time to consider just how the
    news will indeed affect you.  This gets you into the habit of analyzing
    economic news.
  • Look for "Freakonomic" style stories about oddball and interesting
    economic findings.  These are great ways to get into economic issues in
    a fun way.

If you wish to take your fannish/geeky interests professional – or have
already done so – keep up on economic issues as well.  It’s easier than
it looks, and will help you get the big picture and think ahead.

– Steve