- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
I've often dreamed of finding the perfect virtual secretary to manage those mundane tasks of life—paying bills, filing paperwork, keeping track of appointments, making travel arrangements—that are difficult to manage on a hectic schedule. Now it appears that I haven't been dreaming big enough. An article in Saturday's Wall Street Journal highlights the potentially huge phenomenon of "personal offshoring":
Offshore outsourcing has transformed the way U.S. companies do business. Now, some early adopters are figuring out how to tap overseas workers for personal tasks. They're turning to a vast talent pool in India, China, Bangladesh and elsewhere for jobs ranging from landscape architecture to kitchen remodeling and math tutoring. They're also outsourcing some surprisingly small jobs, including getting a dress designed, creating address labels for wedding invitations or finding a good deal on a hotel room, for example.
Along with Guru.com, one of the bigger players is Elance, a California-based company whose site lists a huge variety of freelance jobs. Disturbingly, many of the tasks listed are in my job description: blog writing, copy editing, article writing, web layout …
Evalueserve, the Indian research firm that wrote the white paper (pdf) that prompted the Journal's story, estimates "the total addressable market in the United States" for personal offshoring to be "easily" over $20 billion. Gulp.
The good news is that my dream of having a personal assistant is now attainable: There's GetFriday, an unfortunately named Indian company that offers a "personal virtual assistant" for as little as $7 an hour, depending on which plan you choose. So as long as I don't get offshored myself, my life may just have gotten a little easier.