John had just returned from a trip to Italy. His sisters, each a year or two older had come back from similar trips to Portugal, Egypt and Turkey. His cousin was headed to Amsterdam today, and another was describing her trip to the US. They are my wife's Irish nieces and nephews. The more I saw of them this weekend and heard how they comfortably glided around the world, and importantly, how they financed their trips, the more I thought of my discussion with Joe Garde of IrishDebate.com during my book talk in Dublin on Friday.
Joe had pointed out how the Irish are the "glue" in many enterprises around the world. He then introduced me by Twitter to Frank Hannigan who called it "cultural middleware" - something which allows the Irish diaspora outside Ireland estimated at 20X the population in the island to thrive.
At the book event, Joan Mulvihill, CEO of the Irish Internet Association had in turn talked about how she tells young Irish not to get "addicted". No, not Nancy Reagan's version - this is addiction to a salary. She wants young Irish to be comfortable as entrepreneurs, and in communities and crowds as they increasingly become talent sources for enterprises - not just seek out jobs in multi-nationals and local large companies.
How will the Irish "glue" need to evolve to be relevant in the technology Polymath world I describe? Will labor mobility matter as much in a world with telepresence and digital collaboration where work moves to talent, not the other way round? Can the Irish Diaspora continue to work in a world increasingly wary of immigration? How would the Irish themselves react to the next wave of Polish, Filipino and other mobile work forces eager to show the world they can similarly be the "glue"? Will the next generation of Irish continue to flock to institutions like the US FBI, which has over the generations depended heavily on them? Or will John and his siblings and cousins heed Joan's advice more and avoid larger employers?
While us middle aged folks fret about those issues, my wife observed over the weekend how optimistic John and her other nephews and nieces were. Sure the Irish economy is not in great shape, but nobody seems to have told these young ones. A corporate job in New Jersey, a start up in Ireland, a community role in the SAP SDN ecosystem, a job in a beach hotel in Turkey. The choices are limitless.
The more I present on my book, the more I am fascinated by how much of the discussion gravitates towards "future of work" implications. Hope to explore these aspects more in a GigaOm "bunker session" in San Francisco on July 28 and on the Bill Kutik Radio Show on August 4. And I hope to join Joe on one of his IrishDebate shows in the next few weeks.