Paid duct taping vs unpaid creation - *working value system not found*

The difference between “doing a job” and “doing good work” is one we take very seriously, and I dare say most of the people working in the Edgeryders team, but also those on the platform, in the community are actively searching and or pursuing alternatives to classical jobs.

This is the reason we are now organising an online-summit with multiple topical public listening and discussion sessions on the very topic of “making a living”.

Sometimes that is very hard. Some people have to do their “good work” after their job, for others, the financial reality of the “good work” is not secure, especially during a crisis like this one.

In one of our conversations about the issue of work during Covid19 I shared how my friends and my mother’s self-worth was tied to work even so they know better. Among many understanding and helpful answers was the recommendation to read David Graeber’s book “Bullshit Jobs”.

Bellow you find a snipped from David Graeber’s book “Bullshit Jobs”


I would like to invite your perspective on this issue in the context of open source and the issue of “making a living”.

  • Have you experienced examples of that?

  • Do you think this is an important issue?

  • How would you like to solve this?

  • How can we find an appropriate value system for value-creating work?

Please post here and I would like to invite you to our online-summit:
Sneak Peek: Covid19 + Resilient Livelihoods: An Online Summit

The conversation we are having here is the start of a listening session during that summit.

This event is part of the NGI Forward project Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, launched by the European Commission in the autumn of 2016. It has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 825652 from 2019-2021. You can learn more about the initiative and our involvement in it at

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Cross-posted on Blivande


Here is a recent interview with Graeber in which the topic is connected to the current situation.

Have a look, what would you like to add or ask?

What is your experinces with bullshit work before as well as during the crisis?


How about economic relations?

It really is fascinating because for so many years governments all over the world had been telling us they could not do anything like what they just did: stop almost all economic activity, close the borders, and declare a global state of emergency. Three months ago, even, everyone assumed that even a one percent decline of GDP would be an unmitigated catastrophe, like we’d all be trampled by the economic equivalent of Godzilla.

But that is not what has happened.

No, something else has happened. Everybody stayed at home and economic activity only fell by one third. Which is already crazy. You would imagine that when everybody is at home and not doing anything the economy should be down by at least 80 per cent, not one third. Wouldn’t you? Kind of makes you wonder what exactly are they measuring? What is an “economy”, anyway? And what is work?

I think we can begin to see those things more clearly because of the pandemic.

Also touches on protesting in quarantine times for example

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We would like to make a summit event out of this topic. Who would like to get involved?

I am not sure if that really is an issue (and I guess the book has real numbers about it). I mostly think of the “Open Source Programmer at night” as a myth, or at least being the exception when speaking about Open Source Software that is actually being used by multiple parties in critical parts of their business systems.

Also in podcasts I sometimes hear programmers ranting about how tough their “life” and working conditions are at their day-to-day-job. Yet, the demand is very high and the salary is … “competitive” - as a developer you should be able to pick your job (if you can live with the 40h etc convention)! If you want to do Open Source, tell your company.

If I encounter some issue with Free (as in freedom, ~ Open Source) software, I will contribute, in the form of an creating a issue in the ticket-system (that is how developers keep track of what maybe has to be done), getting involved in the Forum, Mailing List or Chat, or propose an improvement (“Pull Request”). Many times this is about a clarification in the installation or maintenance instructions. I do this in my paid time (I bill my customers for it) and I believe any User should feel as an empowered user and just do the same - for me its part of the game. If my bosses (I dont really have any…) were to tell me: “Nope, you have to keep your improvements private” or “Sorry, thats something you have to do in your free time”, they’d disqualify as bosses. Just move on - there should be plenty of alternatives out there.