The Sock Diary

Musings of a part-time Sweaty Sock.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Time for sale on eBay?

I was listening to an IT conversations podcast from OSCON by Paul Graham today. He was talking about what business can learn from Open Source. His most hard hitting comment was that business should learn to invest in people rather than paying them to do a 9-5/8-7/whatever prescribed job. People enjoy doing what they're good at and want to do, rarely do they enjoy what they're told to do. If people are not enjoying themslves, they tend to be less productive, etc. If you have a partner, maybe kids, a mortgage, packing it all in and doing what you like (and getting a VC to finance it) may be a little daunting.

"a consultant could auction their time on ebay"

Talking to a friend last night, he mentioned he had this idea which may or may not be cool. He suggested that a consultant could auction their time on ebay. A consultant or group could offer their time and expertise, maybe a 40 hours over two weeks in December, or the opportunity for people to invest in something they are building for general release. A Sourceforge project could get some funding for rackspace, or bandwidth with the promise of kudos, or maybe profits from consultancy on the new project.

All the feedback and payment solutions are already in place. Excellent consultants or groups get good feedback and commensurate increase in their reserve price and crap consultants are unmasked. Buyers know what they're getting from previous feedback, links to CVs and maybe LinkedIn detail, and consultants get invested in. They may be doing a project the client requires, or doing a project they've always wanted to do, with a number of people investing in it.

It could work for other industries other than IT. What about looking on ebay for your plumber? With all the feedback, you'll be able to check whether they're any good, turn up when they say they will, etc. You could bid on time slots during the day and evening.

I know there maybe a number of practical problems to overcome to get this working, but with the rise in home working, nearly ubiquitous broadband, and PayPal, I reckon it's a probable goer. More and more people are downsizing, or carefully thinking about downsizing, and this kind of departure from the normal way of working is an option to keep in the industry of your choice without the usual employer - employee relationship and the costs associated with that for both parties. It's speed short-term contracting. e-contracting? i-contracting? Someone will call it the i-con :)

Of course, I haven't got the guts to do it myself, and I'm quite enjoying my job at the moment, but I reckon I know a few people who might give it a go in their spare time. The question is: will any potential employers or investors be up for it?

I think it's a damn good idea.

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  • At 11:22 am, Blogger mekats said…

    That's a fantastic Idea dude! Not sure how well the e-bay interface suit for this type of 'auction'.


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