Work VS going to work

What is work? I mean, what is it, really?

Easy answer coming from thermodynamics, where work is a very well defined concept that doesn't involve bosses, dress code and deadlines:

When something tries to modify the universe in a physical way, Work is the amount of energy effectively resulting in the modification.

Your upstairs neighbor calls you and asks you if you've got some eggs in the fridge. They're making crèpes and just noticed they were out of eggs. You're like: "Sure, I'll even bring it to you". From that moment, we need to get the universe from state A: "no eggs upstairs, one egg downstairs" to state B: "one egg upstairs, no eggs downstairs".

  1. grab egg
  2. walk upstrairs with egg
  3. hand over egg
  4. walk downstairs without egg
  5. profit!

This will soon start making sense, I promise.

Between state A and B, energy was spent. The thing is, you spent much more of it than necessary. Did you really need to bring all the kilos of flesh, bones and clothe that are part of you all the way up and down just in order to deliver a few grams of egg? Surely not. If you're efficiency minded, you'll tell your neighbor to open the window, and throw the egg up. But even that will end up spending much more than the absolute minimum energy required to get the universe from A to B. What with all the friction in your joints, the resistance of the air...

I said it. Work, as used in science is the absolute minimum amount of energy required to move stuff around. You calculate it very easily from the mass of the object you want to move and the distance you want to move it. Any other sort of energy is called, in the same framework of science, Heat. Heat is much easier to make than work. It's actually impossible to produce any work without producing garbage-heat as a result.

This is what work is. Some people erroneously call business "work", but that's because they aren't real scientists like us. *High-five!*

What is business? Well, that's a no-brainer. It simply means the action of keeping oneself busy. You got 24h everyday, you're supposed to sleep one third of it. What do you do with the rest? Well, you get a job, the job brings in money, you give that money to other people with jobs. And before you know it, it's already bed time.

How do they relate to each other? Well, they very much don't. Work is the lean and perfect quantity that takes the Universe from yesterday-state to tomorrow-state through the constant todayness of where work is applied to it. Going to work has nothing to do with that. In fact, business produces much more heat than work. In many cases, it produces none. However, when time for business is over, people might spend their leftover time doing actually meaningful stuff. Stuff that will leave a mark on the universe. Be it painting, writing, teaching, growing things, building things...

Work (changing the universe) seems to be done best outside of work (business). Lol.

All work? Really? That can't be true. Surely the action of digging a mountain for ore and refining it for use in the industry is work. Doesn't it take the universe from the state "No iron available to make steel, boohoo" to "Plenty of iron! Let's forge!"? Cutting trees for wood, growing the crops we eat, fishing the seas, that's work, right? Who's assembling all those into usable stuff that people on their free time might use to produce work? People with jobs. Nobody in their right mind would blow up a mountain to expose its guts on their free time. Nor cut down the forests to make paper. And those things most definitely modify the universe. So that's work there.

Sure, I'm only arguing here that work is best done outside of business. I.E: when business is pitted against people on their free time, business can't compete. In the fields where people don't do things spontaneously (yet... I totally see myself 10 years from now, mining my backyard for ore in a mecha), business still has a shot.

But, if we look at recent history, more and more things that could only be done by business are now accessible to individuals, or well coordinated groups of individuals. If the trend continues, the share of business in the activity of humankind is bound to keep shrinking until it's goodbye.

Oh boy, do I look forward to that day...

Picture of a woman in work clothe and one in afterwork clothe

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A couple of facts first.

I'm an avid user of the web and, on my own terminals, I have set up ad blockers. They efficiently filter out most of the advertising that websites throw at me.

I've been running linux for 10 years as my main system. That amounts to a geological era or two in the software world. I have seen some pretty radical things happen to my desktop, namely KDE4, Gnome3 and Unity.

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