This was somewhat of an odd book for a couple of reasons: first, based on the title, I was expecting something on the order of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
or The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked- 21st Century Edition
; in other words, a book that gave advice on how to exploit the new economy (create your own economy) to prosper (the path to prosperity in a disordered world). The book is not about either of these. What the book is actually about is hard to pin down, however.
If I understand Cowen, creating your own economy is what you can now do in the world of the internet and new technology, where the number, diversity and accesibility of goods and services has sky-rocketed, particularly those goods and services related to the production of information. You can today decide to listen to very select songs on your I-Pod; read only blogs and receive feeds that suit your very unique tastes; and participate in online groups and activities that also satisfy your own individualized, quirky and even eccentric tastes, all at a fantastically reduced cost and ease of access. At the same time you can contribute to this hyper-personal economy by adding goods and services to it via your own input and participation, like by writing book reviews on Amazon.com, I suppose. As far as I understand it, that's what creating your own economy is about.
Second, Cowen envelops his economic point in a broader discussion of autism and its cognitive strengths, suggesting that these strengths are particularly important in this model of economy creation, and advocating for more use and acknowledgement of these strengths, particularly ordering and sequencing of specialized information, as well as a bias toward objectivity over emotionalism. Cowen also states the case that autism is not a separate condition out there from which a few suffer, but rather one point on the scale of what he calls neurodiversity, a scale on which all of us obviously must fall, some finding themselves closer to the autism point, others further.
In the end, you are left with an ambigous feeling about the subject and purpose of the book: should I identify my autistic side and apply it? should I create my own economy more consciously? I admire Mr. Cowen, as I am a fan of his blog. I particularly envy his ability to read so much. I just wish he had goven his work some more structure and tied it all together in a better way. Nevertheless, I gave the book four stars because, despite the detours and jumps, the material is still interesting and Cowen has an easy writing style that makes it quick reading.