- Your value is defined by the opportunities you make possible for others.
- Anything that can be shared will be shared.
- Win the “countryside” to take the “cities.”
- Be first to channel.
- Use information symmetry to replace hierarchies with “peerships.”
- The network with the smartest participants wins.
- Access trumps ownership.
- Cooperation beats consolidation.
- Create more value than you capture.
- Create use abundance
- Seed it then cede it.
This is one of my favorite examples of socially designed products. To understand it, it helps to know how Microsoft developed its solution to a misspelled search term. For the word “appropriate,” for example, Microsoft developed a long list of possible misspellings: apropriate, approriate, appropriate, aprpiate, etc. (I’m guessing they just used a algorithm to do so.) Whenever a Bing user typed in one of those misspellings, the system knew they were trying to search “appropriate” and suggested the proper spelling. It’s a logical approach. But when large dictionaries carry 400,000 words, creating such lists is a cumbersome task. Google’s approach was different. Its engineers noticed that when a person accidentally searches for a misspelled term their next move is to search the correctly spelled term. As such, Google recognized that it didn’t need to generate lists, it let the user base’s natural search behavior generate the list without them even knowing it. All Google did was present the next typical search term as a simple visual—”Did you mean: appropriate?” Google found a way to use the digital exhaustfrom its searches to create a lightweight solution to a user problem. It’s an elegant example of collaborative filtering.
Building the Open Source Economy one proof point at a time
One of the very early demonstrations of the power of the open collaborative model was the development of the Cornish Steam Engine. The fiercely enforced patent on Watt and Boulton’s steam engine meant that not only the cost of licensing was too high for the Cornwall tin miners, but also that they could not improve nor adapt the design to their specific needs. For this reason, given that the original creators had no incentive to improve it and everyone else was prevented from doing so, innovation on this model stalled. Shortly after, Trevithick and Woolf introduced a new design that was not patented and allowed the community to freely install, adapt and improve it. Miners quickly began exchanging knowledge and collaboratively developing improvements. As a result, the Trevithick and Woolf steam engine became the industry’s standard and the community of miners that gathered around it produced near continuous innovation for more than 30 years. It’s worth noting that during this period, the rate of innovation was proven quantitatively to be inversely proportional to the rate of patenting.
Story from: Marcin Jakubowski
Two main agents of transformation guide [the p2p revolution]. One is the emergence of community dynamics as an essential ingredient of doing business. It is no longer a matter of autonomous and separated corporations marketing to essentially isolated consumers, it is now a matter of deeply inter-networked economic actors involved in vocal and productive communities. The second is that the combined effect of digital reproduction and the increasingly ‘socialized’ production of value, makes the individual and corporate privatization of ‘intellectual’ property if not untenable, then certainly more difficult , and in all likelihood, ultimately unproductive. Hence the combined development of community-oriented and ‘open’ business models, which rely on more ‘social’ forms of intellectual property.
“We [at the p2p foundation] therefore look at community dynamics that are mobilized by traditional actors (open innovation, crowdsourcing), and new models where the community’s value creation is at its core (the free software, shared design and open hardware models). We then look at monetization in the absence of private IP. Linked to these developments are the emergence of distributed physical infrastructures, where the evolution of the networked computer is mirrored in the development of networked production and even financing. Indeed the mutualization of knowledge goes hand in hand with the mutualization of physical infrastructures, such as collaborative consumption and peer to peer marketplaces, used to mobilize idle resources and assets more effectively."
Then, as we started collecting examples of the urban interventions you see in this issue, and will see more of at the U.S. Pavilion in Venice, I wondered how they might compare to similar citizen-initiated urban improvement projects in Europe. At first glance, there is a strong resemblance: Most are small-scale projects that highlight issues of transportation, ecology, and social justice. As a European-in-denial, I am groomed to be what Baudrillard describes as “a fanatic of aesthetics and meaning, of culture, of favor and seduction.” That’s why, initially, I did not find many of them compelling. To be blunt: Many of them seemed easy, unpolished, one-liners compared to many of their European counterparts, which tend to be elegant, abstract, and part of a multilayered narrative. (There are, of course, exceptions on both sides of the Atlantic.) So what makes these projects worthy to be a part of something as elaborate as this exhibition?
“With healthy exceptions (Jeanne van Heeswijk and Bik van der Pol, to name a couple), many European urban interventions are part of a slightly tired, overly critical discourse that takes place in art institutions and academia and is largely impenetrable to outsiders. Many of these European projects manage to receive funding from municipalities or institutions, or the designers aspire self-consciously for their projects to be included in exhibitions, which are also subsidized by government money. Although often highly participatory in ambition, I wonder if they really connect to the everyday life of cities.
“The American projects, on the other hand, are bracing in their honesty: They are often rough, unpolished, and sometimes wild. Many are made by young and passionate urbanites who are not part of any formal art or architecture discourse, and do not aspire to join one. (This being said, many of our featured interventionists are as well-versed in Guy Debord as they are in the latest national transportation policy). Overwhelmingly, however, many of our featured artists simply strive to improve their neighborhoods, and, in so doing, they make a strong critique of American city planning, urban policies, and, most importantly, the ways in which Americans operate in urban space. Their projects amplify a renewed decisiveness from ordinary individuals who feel as though they can—and will—change their cities."
— “Towards Decisiveness,” by David van de Leer for the Venice Biennial
— “Principles of Networked Unmanagement” by Harold Jarche
I asked [Kevin Doohan, former Head of Digital Marketing at Red Bull] about what Red Bull does for their athletes. I referenced Shaun White’s now famous, but once secret, super pipe. Kevin said, ‘Quite honestly, those ideas just start because we’re trying to help our athletes win. Shaun was tired of kids filming his new tricks in practice and sharing it with his competitors, so we built him a pipe other people couldn’t get to.’
Of course, it was also brilliant marketing.
We’re all after that, too. Mass attention, jaw-dropping, real-time events like today. But as usual, we’re chasing the effect, not the cause.
First, smart brands and smart marketers need to find small groups of special people, and then quite literally go to extremes to help them win. To propel them to their goals and to their mutual fame."
— Fantastic quote from Bud Caddell about the importance helping groups of people rather than just firing messaging at them. Goes right back to why the companies that nurture the smartest consumer communities win.
Usually when you hear talk about investing in the local economy it’s referring to spending money at locally owned and operated small businesses.
While buying coffee at the local coffeehouse or a book at the independent bookstore certainly helps keep these companies in business, it might not be enough to help them grow or expand and keep up with the seemingly limitless capital of global corporations. Sometimes you want to do a little more to keep your favorite businesses (and your community) prosperous.
Now there’s a new way to really invest in your local businesses and get perks at the same time.
Building off Kickstarter’s successful crowdfunding platform that helps fund artistic projects,Smallknot allows you to invest in a specific project from a local business. Tiered perks (depending on how much you invest) help incentivize investment. For example, an independent radio stationis looking to revamp its online presence. Help them out with $100 and you can play out your childhood fantasy of hosting a radio show. Or help a design shop put out their latest “ethically made” collection and get double the amount in store credit.
Why is it important to invest in these projects? The founders of Smallknot explain on their websitewhy this type of investment is so important for small businesses, “Small business finance is broken. This is about a broken system. The financial system just isn’t built for the smallest businesses that make our neighborhoods special. The places we spend our lives. Small business lenders can’t make enough money from Mom ‘n Pop unless they squeeze them to death on interest rates or just ignore them altogether.”
And soon, crowdfunding investment could mean more than just perks from the business, Fast Company’s Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan reports:
[A] new bill called the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act could change the crowdfunding game by letting small businesses offer stock options in addition to perks. In a New York Times Op-Ed, Amy Cortese explains how the act would help small businesses and the platforms that support them: “the proposed crowdfunding changes would make it easier for entrepreneurs to tap ordinary investors–often customers or people in their social networks–for funds, with the promise of a return.”
It’s a bill that would not only benefit investors and businesses, but entire communities.
Currently, Smallknot is only in New York and Greenville, S.C., but has plans to expand to cities nationwide.
From Wired Magazine:
“From the pyramids to modern skyscrapers in the Middle East, the world’s greatest structures have often risen on the backs of the masses. Now the masses can finance them, and earn a profit.
Colombia is home to what is perhaps one of the largest crowdfunded buildings ever attempted (depending on how you define the term), a 66-story skyscraper called BD Bacatá Downtown. As what its developers call “the first skyscraper built by famous common people,” Bogota’s tallest building is rising with $145 million supplied by 3,000 investors. The project was conceived as an investment pitch to the entire city: “How could we turn a 853-foot building with an investment cost of $240 million into a product that is affordable to all?” ask the developers in a promotional video. “It is a simple but not easy idea: by dividing the skyscraper into thousands of identical parts called FiDis.”
The “FiDis” are ownership rights to the physical building that cost $20,000 over two years, with a down payment of 10%. Investors receive monthly payments reflecting the building’s profitability, projected to be 10% annually.. A sales and marketing organization for real estate companies, Prodigy Network, is handling the investment campaign.
BD Bacata’s backers say they will expand this model “to the 99%” by developing amusement parks, clubs, malls, and resorts with capital from small investors (although most of those “99%” do not have $20,000 in investment capital, twice the annual income of the average Colombian).
Yet the model itself may transform how we develop our cities. Traditionally, financing large urban projects has been the domain of a small number of extraordinarily wealthy banks, developers, and Wall Street firms. Crowdfuding platforms are starting to muscle into this world of investment capital (although they are still not even a drop in the bucket).
One of those is Fundrise, a new D.C.-based startup selling shares in commercial real estate for $100 each. Two brothers in real estate, tired of the control Wall Street exerted on investment capital, decided to ask the citizens of their own city to invest in commercial development projects.
Their first attempt, 1351 H Street NE along the capital’s trendy new H Street Corridor, is now three-quarters funded with 126 investors contributing $211,000. Fundrise’s motto speaks to its vision: “Build the city you want to live in.”
With the passing of a new bill in America allowing for local investment, you can expect to see more of this type of stuff in America in the coming years.