The disruptiveness of doing what you love

Anne Zelenka, whose excellent blog I have only recently discovered, has a great post about how doing what you love can lead in unexpected directions – in which she uses the example of Mary Hodder, who started a Web 2.0 video-sharing service called Dabble about six months ago and is almost ready to launch (which is part of a much larger story about how easy it is to start companies now… but I digress).

Mary wrote something about how she wanted to stop doing things she didn’t like and start doing something she loved, and how great it was to do that, and she mentions the insightful (if long) piece by uber-geek Paul Graham called How To Do What You Love, which is worth a read. Paul mentions how “The test of whether people love what they do is whether they’d do it even if they weren’t paid for it– even if they had to work at another job to make a living.” And when you combine that with Web 2.0, you wind up with something quite powerful. Even usually gruff blogger and Kurt Cobain-lookalike Ben Barren gets a little misty-eyed at the idea.

Anne says:

One thing that must scare the wigs off of media moguls is that many writers and other content creators will work for free, because it’s so intrinsically enjoyable. In fact, they’ll pay to be able to create and publish content like essays, software, videos, and photographs. I’m a great example. Not only do I pay for TypePad for my momblog and Haloscan for the comments here, I am foregoing a six-figure income in software development for the opportunity to write and think and develop what I want. I am effectively paying more than $100,000 annualized in order to do what I love.

That is a pretty incredible statement. And yes, it must scare the wigs off of many media moguls, not to mention people in lots of other businesses. How can you compete with something that allows people to do what they love and start a business all at the same time? Just think of Mary and Dabble, or Josh and del.icio.us, or Kevin and digg.com, or Gabe and memeorandum.com. A recent interview with Gabe said that email responses came in from him at 3 a.m. – would he be doing that if he worked at any other company but one he started and runs for the love of it?

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