It's fitting that on this Labor Day holiday, the lead story and discussion on Techmeme at this hour has to do with the labor that has gone into making Wikipedia the poster-child of "user-generated content". Titled "Who writes Wikipedia", by Aaron Swartz, is worth retiring in it's entirety.
Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales, and the core community maintain that the bulk of the edits in Wikipedia are provided by the core community of 500ish laboring folks.
Aaron Swartz does some number crunching to show that while the core community provides the critical clean-up edits on the site, the bulk of the content is provided by a much larger of contributors, many of whom don't even bother to register on the site.
Regardless of the debate on how broad and deep this user participation really is, it's clear that the traditional definition of "Labor" is rapidly evolving.
Whether you're celebrating Labor Day today in America or Labour Day elsewhere in the world on another day, we need to remember that these days were meant to commemorate the old-fashioned notion of Labor, where the fundamental issues dealt with the rights of workers.
The picture Fred Wilson uses today in his post on Labor Day says it all. As he puts it:
"...let's not forget about the working men and women who earn their living with sweat and mind numbing drudgery. Though the US has lost a lot of these jobs overseas, particularly in the manufacturing sector, take a look when you walk out the door and you'll see that there are still many people earning a pay check the hard way."
It is indeed important to keep this in mind. But it's also worth noting that this picture of Labor Day may need to be supplemented with this one, from TrendWatching. As their article "Customer-made" describes it:
"...the CUSTOMER-MADE trend, co-creating with your customers, is the most important one to watch. Not because everything has to or will be co-created in the future, but because tapping into the collective experiences, skills and ingenuity of hundreds of millions of consumers around the world is a complete departure from the inward looking, producer- versus-consumer innovation model so common to corporations around the world."
So as most of us enjoy Labor Day as we really know it today (see picture below by Churl via Flickr), it's good to see a hearty debate and discussion on our changing notions of Labor.
Happy and safe Labor Day Weekend, everybody.