Thursday, December 9, 2010

Making IF Real

Alvis Brigis examines a potential resolution to the current job loss situation in his latest blog post which I commented on here. In his post, Alvis said:

One result of this possibility expansion will be the ongoing emergence of a new class of Super-Prosumer companies that will fill much of the void left by dwindling American jobs. As the traditional economy flounders, these social web companies will clean-up (they already are) and expand the phase space for massive, rapid value creation like never before.

Over at The Speculist commenter damndirtytape asks in comments:

That's an enticing scenario, but what does each CEO-company actually do or make? as in what tangible goods do they produce that other people (foreigners primarily) will buy?

What we are doing now doesn't work. A high tech, but debt and credit based economic model is an illusion. At some point America will have to actually create real goods and services to sell to other countries to reverse the trade gap and get out of worlds largest debtor nation status.

Not sure how any of this prosumer stuff really creates anything new.

Alvis' response speaks for itself, I wish to use both the above quotes to give context for what follows. As per my usual want, we get there by going this other way first. :)

I suspect more people are aware of Bristol Palin from her recent turn as third place finisher on the latest season of Dancing with the Stars, but what seems to be largely lost is the example she provides us of a possible mechanism whereby we can all help save our national economy. Unwed teen pregnancy is traditionally regarded as at best a devastating event. Young Miss Palin's response takes a different tack (via wikipedia). Instead of a disaster, she chooses to make teen motherhood into a career - one that apparently earns a decent living, I might add.

Anybody seeing where I'm going with this yet?

In my initial comment to Alvis' post (which is where this all started, remember?), I said:

How you initially define context greatly influences individual willingness to commit to a concept. The context "root cause" places the existing economic environment in an aggressive defense of established practice and process; the suggested alternative identifies potential additional revenue streams for existing business entities to consider. From there it becomes easier to consider more fundamental changes to business structure and process. Much like the change from manufacturing to service, the economy is easier to change to some entirely different model if there is an established business practice to expand upon to effect the transition. Without something of that nature in place, the established economic/governmental structure will actively resist transition instead of merely drag its collective feet.

The "context" I seek to define today is how we might structure our transition from a job-losing economy - where jobs are the providential offering of some diffuse other - into a job-creating environment in emulation of la Palin's example.

A Limited Liability Corporation is a recognised legal and economic mechanism available to virtually any US citizen or resident, at modest individual cost, that provides a mechanism to transform almost any activity into a profit-making (and, lest we forget, tax-paying) enterprise. Unwed teen mother? No problem, Professional Advocate. Prosumer? What (or even who) do you know that you can start building into a network positioned to connect to a market (either existing or potential)?

The underlying point of all this is that, so far, we the individual retain the initiative in determining how (and by whom) our economic salvation might be attained outside of the established, historical arrangements. To do so via such a creative example as touted by Alvis (and many others, to be fair) requires that we provide some mechanism whereby the existing powers-that-be (like, potentially, that other Palin woman) can recognise and categorise our efforts into their present understanding of things. Doing that makes our efforts merely part of the system, something to be ordinarily taxed and otherwise burdened (think Craigslist), rather than some extremist, disruptive activity to be actively opposed and outlawed (pick your favorite file sharing/aka: music piracy site as example).

Classical strategy teaches that success is attained by a steady process of supportive alliance and avoidance of active opposition. I believe that to be an effective summation of ordinary human interaction and something everyone is well advised to consciously practice in their day-to-day activities, most especially when setting out to effect change to an existing -and well entrenched - paradigm of human behavior and association.

Like turning "job" into individual liberty instead of controlling dependence.


Alvis Brigis said...

I am glad you've hammered home this point, which I'm hearing as "Prosumers need to connect to the real economy through mechanisms that everyone can understand" so they can effect gradual consistent change.

Brushing up on classical strategy, I see now that it's all about Market Compatibility. There are many change agents / activists who are hoping for a disconnection from the market. I myself believe that the best outcome is likely the whole market getting smarter.

I need to crack open the Fourth Turning again to pull out some examples of how the market transitioned during the last American generational shift.

I wonder what accelerating change will mean for this model...

Will Brown said...

Alvis said: Brushing up on classical strategy, I see now that it's all about Market Compatibility.

I (and the rest of the universe that actually knows this stuff better than I do), would be more inclined to state it as: Classical strategic concepts compressed to fit the limitations of a market interaction, but as long as all are aware of which end of the funnel they're looking through, I think your's is an excellent general summary.

Further, "Prosumers need to connect to the real economy through mechanisms that everyone can understand" and accept. Acceptance is a crucial aspect; I understand theft and abuse for example, I just decline (as violently as necessary) to accept them. Government and market participants more generally are more likely to cooperate with a change stressor that offers some advantage to them, greater ease of tax collection say, or enforcement of contract more broadly speaking. The fantacists that dwell upon non-market-based human interaction are doomed to failure.

I wonder what accelerating change will mean for this model...
Consider the effects compression will have on acceptance. Both the rate of delivery and the density of material delivered for public consumption will effect both the general depth and breadth of societal acceptance as well as government/regulatory accomodation of the changes imposed. The most common reaction to change, particularly change that comes to be percieved as imposed by some "outside" change agent, is violence. From any and every perspective of the change process. I believe this to be the reason classical strategy is most commonly associated with military applications (the universal human change agent :)).

I look forward to reading your further thoughts and other's reaction to them.