This came up in a meeting I attended. I described something a development team was working on as fun, and I was informed that it (creating peer-to-peer connections between Android devices) was Type 2 Fun, at best.
I had never seen this before.
A lot of our work (hopefully) falls squarely into the Type 2 Fun category. Not that fun at the time, but fun to remember later, usually because I learned a lot and became better because of the work.
This is worth aspiring for in a career. If you find yourself having a lot of Type 1 Fun (regular, fun-while-it-is-happening fun) you probably either work at a skating rink and really enjoy the YMCA, are a little delusional, or a very self-actualized person.
Should you have some Type 1 Fun on a regular basis? Yes, you should. Can some of it be at work? Absolutely.
But a better achievement for our society is if a lot of us can sit around and say, "You know I learned a lot from that and it helped me excel in my career." If we can say that a lot of the time about a lot of the work we did, we've come a long way from where we were even 100 years ago.
Type 1 Fun is helpful and helps make people more productive. Type 2 Fun is necessary for the success of our companies and careers. And I do mean necessary - things that are a slog (Type 3 Fun) are unsustainable, in the long run.
I've certainly come acrosss some Type 3 Fun, also called, "Let's never do that again." But then, they are still jobs, even when it is your career.
Here's a quick reference, updated for the workplace:
Type 1 Fun: Remember that project where you learned a lot, everything was on time and on budget, and no one got frustrated ever? Me either. Remember that time you won the Fantasy Football League or had a great time at the Christmas party? Type 1 Fun all the way, and work related.
Type 2 Fun: Remember the difficult project where you started behind the 8 ball, worked long hours, but pushed yourself and came out the other side with a ton of knowledge? And you shipped a great product? Remember that time when you got fired and worked hard in your time between jobs so that once you landed a new job you were a changed person with different goals and a new outlook on life? That's Type 2 Fun.
Type 3 Fun: Remember having to do arbitrary work that didn't matter because it fit into someone else's system? Remember the client who used personal attacks on people because they were very unprofessional? That's Type 3 Fun, and it isn't migrating to Type 2 any time soon.
My name is Jonathan Fries. I work for Exadel, Inc. Exadel is a great company, with great people all around the world. I currently lead the Boulder, CO, USA office.