Economists don’t know what to do about it.
It’s hard to measure, hard to quantify and a little odd to explain.
More and more people are spending more and more time (and money) on pursuits that have no pay off other than satisfaction.
"Why should you have a blog?" they ask. "How are you going to make any money?"
"Why post your photos on flickr?" they wonder. "You don’t get compensated by people who see them." Or your garage band’s songs on an MP3 site. Or spending time and money on projects like: The Basket Book: Over 30 Magnificent Baskets To Make and Enjoy.
Of course, economists don’t really worry about this. They understand perfectly well that economics is able to easily explain that human beings pursue things that satsify them.
What the web is doing, though, is exposing lots of avenues for people to use to find satisfaction (but not necessarily cash). Make magazine is page after page of geek projects that are fun, but not profitable. Other sites make it easy for you to build a tube amplifier or splice your own DNA.
Now that white-collar workers regularly spend 75 hours a week at work (did you know the CEO of GE has been spending more than 100 hours a week–for twenty years?!) there’s plenty of time to surf the web and get paid for it.