The Two Sides Of The Geekonomy

Those of us working in – or hoping to work in – the Geekonomy are always trying to understand it a bit better.  It's a bit of an obsession of mine, because I feel like there's "something" out there for us progeeks and profans to grasp, but I haven't fully grasped it yet.  I can get some idea of the form of the Geekonomy, but its still fuzzy.

I've said for awhile that the Geekonomy, that place where geekiness, fandom, and industry comes together, is information-driven.  Its computers and video games, anime and novels, and at least a bit self-referential as everything ties into each other.  The fangirl that writes fanfic also uses Facebook and debates publishing on  The dedicated otaku uses Photoshop to do art, makes web pages, and buys manga at the bookstore.

Of course, this is leading up to a recent insight of mine.  Namely, that the Geekonomy has two sides that are intimately intertwined.

The first part of the Geekonomy is Enabling – the parts of the Geekonomy that let people do things.  This is the part of the economy that empowers people to achieve things – this is the iPhone and the PC, and, Photoshop and Open Office.  The Enabling part of the Geekonomy lets people achieve things – and is nothing without people who want to get thins done.

The second part of the Geekonomy is what people produce within the economy that has value without it empowering people – it is Product.  It is end product- manga, movies, video games, etc.  Its place in the economy is that it stimulates and interests and fulfills, but doesn't directly help people achieve goals.  It has value to people of itself.

These two sides of the Geekonomy are inseparable – for without the Enabling side, people cannot make or deliver the Product side, or do so as easily.  Devianatart Enables artists to deliver their Product – art – to others.  Maya Enables artists to create special effects to create Product – games, shows, etc.

These two sides of the Geekonomy are also inseparable in people's lives and hobbies.  Their interest in Product and in Enabling come together – the person into manga who gets into Photoshop, the programmer who creates a web site that Empowers others to attend Conventions (another Product that can in turn Empower).

That inseparableness is another thing that I think makes the Geekonomy distinct.

Any thoughts?

– Steven Savage