The Digital Information Economy and Adding Value Through Care with Tara McMullin

The internet is overflowing with guidance on how to make big money with digital products. Online, “pros” market their methods through paid courses and content that don’t actually help people make money or even good content. The problem is, many of these products focus solely on making a profit, rather than offering service and care to those purchasing them. 

Tara McMullin spends much of her time “thinking about the ways that we make a living, how that’s changing…and what we might need to learn about how we’ll work in the future”. As the host of the What Works podcast, the What Works Weekly newsletter, and the book What Works: A Comprehensive Framework to Change the Way We Approach Goal Setting, Tara is well-versed in the ways people make a paycheck in this digital age and how doing the work without care impacts both the producer and the consumer. 

Maintaining humanity in a dehumanzing economy

Capitalism is, by nature, dehumanizing. Karl Marx called out Capitalism for leading to alienation from the products of our labor, from our creative selves, and from others. Today, we live within a Capitalist economy, and figuring out “how to navigate the 21st-century economy without losing your humanity,” is a tenet of Tara’s work. 

The system is stacked against us in this pursuit. However, making more intentional choices in our entrepreneurial pursuits, ones that center the care that goes into any creation, can keep us moving in the right direction.

Digital extractivism and products without care

Tara points out that, much like how governments mine and resell natural resources—theoretically owned by all—to their citizens, the digital space is packed with information for sale that’s available for free just one more mouse-scroll away.

Somewhere between the initial ideation and sharing of these ideas and the monetization of them as downloadable PDFs behind a subscription paywall, though, the care that ought to go into every saleable idea gets lost.

Often, the latest creator—who might be 15 generations from the original idea—fails to put care into how they are relaying the information they’re selling and releases their product exclusively for personal gain.

As a result, they also fail to consider the varied life experiences of their future customers. They don’t bother to consider whether their information will be easy to use, both for reading and absorbing the content and, later, implementing it.

Putting care work back into product creation

When it comes to hope for a better digital economy and information delivery, Tara admits that optimism can be hard to find, but it ultimately comes down to always asking the question, “what are we creating together?” 

The altruistic goals that push us to stop working for someone else and start working for ourselves easily place us right back on the track of moneymaking devoid of other considerations. If we set a different goal—to resist that and instead prioritize recognizing and collaborating with everyone’s unique values to make a better product—not only will the creators benefit, but the consumers will feel and benefit from the obvious care, support, intention, and thoughtfulness that went into what they have purchased.

In episode 13 of the Care Work podcast, Tara McMullin explores digital extractivism, contrapreneurs, and care work as it relates to the digital age with host Alida Miranda-Wolff. You won’t want to miss this insightful and relevant discussion.

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