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Ryan Coonerty and Jeremy Neuner
The Rise of the Naked Economy: How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace
MacMillan Palgrave / St. Martin's Press
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-0-230-34219-4
Publication Date: 07-09-2013
244 Pages; $28

Date Reviewed: 07-12-2013

Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2013

Index:  Non-Fiction

I'm already road kill in the world as described by Ryan Coonerty and Jeremy Neuner in 'The Rise of the Naked Economy: How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace.' Those changes have come and gone and at this point the website you are reading is hanging by the slimmest of threads. But while it's quite likely too late for me, it may not be too late for most of this book's potential readers. The charm of 'Naked' is that it presents, without leaning too hard one direction or the other, both sides of the equation. Here's a vision of the very near future that's both utopian and dystopian.

'Naked' fires off with a forward by Fabio Rosati, the CEO of Elance, an online job-matching service cited in the book, and a very informative Introduction by the authors that lays out what follows; three parts, followed by a conclusion, a "What to Expect When You're Expecting the Naked Economy," acknowledgements and a very thorough and useful index. The book is easy to read, clear and logical. For some, that logic is not going to be particularly good news.

Part one is titled "The Cubicle Pensioner: The Traps and Trappings of Work." It's a combination of history and revision. By examining what work once was as recently as the late 20th century, comparing it to earlier versions and looking at what is and is not important, the authors pry our concepts out of old models of work with the idea of making new ones comprehensible. For a certain segment of the population, which alas includes me, this reads like an economic version of the apocalypse. It's refreshing as all get-out, well written and clear headed. But readers will quickly suss that this is not a feel-good, get-rich quick guide.

The second part, titled "A Specialist and a Generalist Walk Into a Bar ... Get Drunk and Start a Company: Prospering in the New Economy" might be considered a guide to economic evolution. This is great stuff if you're not already a dinosaur, and those readers who aren't (most of them) will find the material energizing, refreshing and intelligent. Even those of us on the wrong side of the mass economic extinction can learn from what's here; if nothing else, that the shadow above is from a planet-killing asteroid and those furry critters at your feet you always ignored will inherit the earth. If you can manage to emulate them, you're in good shape. If not, well, it helps to be informed about all the chaos that's going to catch up with you, sooner rather than later.

Part three, "Wi-Fi, Work and Water Coolers: How Work is Changing But People Are Not" is an informed vision of the future, assuming you have one. Coonerty and Neuner are the co-founders of NextSpace, which looks to those of us who spent their formative years in cubicle farms pretty much like the planet today must have looked to the last lumbering giant reptiles. It's very nice, and we'd love to be there. In this segment, you'll find visions of the three parts of the economy that the authors deem critical; people, place and policy. There are lots of fantastic visions of companies in the present making these transitions, making them work and making money in the process. As William Gibson remarked, "The future has arrived, it's just not evenly distributed."

Throughout the book, expect lots of interviews and mini-biographies of people who have successfully made the transition from yesterday's world to tomorrow's. They come from all trades, all levels of incomes and a wide variety of places. Coonerty and Neuner are conscientious about getting outside of Silicon Valley.

Conclusions are made and expectations explained with concision and intellectual rigor. 'Naked' fully lives up to its title in that the authors don't mince words. Their outlook and their vision of the outcome of the trends they see are both thoroughly positive. The metamorphosis in action offers the workers of the future more freedom, more family time and more flexibility in their lives, assuming that they are on the right side of the evolutionary divide. The authors offer a vision for getting on the right side of that divide that's clear and engagingly described. If we plan for what's coming, we'll do well, and if we don't, then there's a good chance our descendents will be using distillations of our compressed remains to power whatever vehicles they're driving in the future that we never get round to experiencing.

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