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The Dream Job Project

Over at Design Observer, my Dream Job Project was recently launched. In this first post, I invited people to post the concrete aspects of the work they do or the work they want to do. Later I’m going to boil down this input into a set of parameters that would serve as the outlines of modern, creative work. Some of the postings so far have been about values, like autonomy. While those are important, certainly, I’m more interested in articulating the concrete, practical aspects of this “autonomy.” Other people have posted about content, along the lines of, “I want to work with dogs.” This, too, is crucial, but it’s not the whole story: I doubt the dog lover would want the job as the canine euthanizer at the local pound.

I rather fear that I’ve been too abstract in my requests, but then again, this is an experiment: whatever people leave in the comments is what I’ve got to work with. This isn’t a utopian project, in which “dream jobs” are available for everyone, and in which we can ignore the particular historical moment we live in, which creates needs and provides rewards but no escape hatch (except for suicide, I guess) from the reality of toil itself. Neither is it dystopian, in which we’re nailed to the reality of toil (like the figure in the movie Metropolis, chained to the giant rotating arms of the clock), so we might as well count our blessings and make the best of it.

Really, it’s this: if humans are meant to find meaning in work, and if “dream jobs” are really just variants of existing kinds of work, and if we’re driven by our aspirations, then what can we give people to understand how close they might actually be to work they want to do? Or how far?