The genesis of my Relationship Economy thesis was a realization, back around 1994 when I was writing Esther Dyson’s monthly tech newsletter Release 1.0, that the word “consumer” made me really uncomfortable.

I followed that energy, and it proved invaluable. Ideas kept unfolding from that initial premise. I began to notice the consumerization of so many spheres of human activity, from how we educate our children to how we elect our governments and how we pray to our Gods. I paid attention to the language of marketing to consumers, to the metaphors and business models that had spun out as a result.

Like the REXcast I posted just before, this is a look at what started me down my current path.

Again, even more gratitude to Jean Russell for the camera work.

Why I do what I do

Jerry —  June 2, 2011 — 6 Comments

Consider this a medium-length answer to Tony Deiffel‘s marvelous question, wdydwyd?

It’s also an opinion on how to handle information overflow.

Throw in a dash of meditation on life, history and where we are now. See for yourself.

In the video, I mention Leibniz, Yin and Yang, Leonard Shlain’s book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess and Big History.

All sorts of gratitude to Jean Russell for the camera work.

Curitiba, Brazil, progress

Jerry —  May 17, 2011 — 3 Comments

Last night I arrived in Curitiba, where I have two goals: attending the conference on innovative cities and scouting for venues, resources and people to involve for a couple events I’ll run here this October.

Brazil’s motto, which you can read on their flag, is Order and Progress, and Curitiba is one of the big examples of recent progress. Over the last 30 years, this city has reinvented itself on many levels.

Curitiba’s famous ex-mayor Jaime Lerner keynotes the conference, which looks like it’ll cover a wide range of issues that cities face, with emphasis on how they’re solving problems creatively. There’s sub-conference on social networks, at which I’ll do a 15-minute TED-style talk on Friday morning.

As to the events I’m running, I’m looking for:

  • Activitsts, entrepreneurs, innovators, connectors, artists and others from this area
  • Interesting venues for our meetings (two groups: one 15 people, the other 45)
  • One person, likely younger, who can coordinate activities on the ground here
  • A local artist to design a couple of logos for the events
  • A local source of gifts for my attendees
  • A local T-shirt printer who can silkscreen those logos on nice tees

For now, off to the sessions.

Giving two REX talks this week

Jerry —  February 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

If you’d like to hear about this REXpedition from me live, I’m doing two talks this week. One you can listen to; the other you can attend, if you’re in the Bay Area.

The first is a Zipcast tomorrow at 1pm Pacific.

What’s a Zipcast? It’s SlideShare’s answer to webinars. To participate in this one tomorrow, click on this link a few minutes before it starts. By the way, I’ll be in terrific company: the three Zipcasts before me are with Andrew McAfee, Jake Wengroff and BJ Fogg.

The second talk this week is a live one, in the old face-to-face mode, on Thursday evening at a nifty venue in the East Bay. Here’s the invite text:

Thursday, February 24th 7:00pm – 10:00pm

The NeXus and COREcommons present…

Relationship Economics
Navigating Massive Change Together
Jerry Michalski
Founder, The REXpedition


The NeXus
1414 Harbour Way South, #1010
Ford Point at Marina District
Richmond, CA 94804
Free Tea and Secure Parking

Tickets: $15 Advance; $20 Door
Purchase Tickets

REX is the Relationship Economy eXpedition.

The next social and industrial order has more to do with abundance and trust than with scarcity and stickiness. The key assets are trusted relationships.

In such a world, whom you trust and who trusts you are primary assets. You’ll choose the product (or vote for the candidate) that people you trust recommend, from among the abundant choices.

Here we’ll build key elements of the Relationship Economy, playing out what it means for business, culture, society, governance, education and more, because its effects will be widespread and durable.

This is the Relationship Economy, and we’ll be exploring it together.

Presented by COREcommons

The Creator’s Dilemma

Jerry —  December 15, 2010 — 6 Comments

Creative people (and I mean all sorts of creative people, from sculptors and choreographers to inventors and mathematicians) are stuck in a dilemma: they would like to share their creations openly, and they need to make a living.

No wonder many of them freak out at peer-to-peer file sharing systems and other technologies and movements that are about open sharing. They see these movements as existential threats.

Imagine an infrastructure that makes it easier for them to make a living, so they might contemplate releasing their works more openly. This post builds toward that goal.

The links I mention in the video:

What WikiLeaks wrought

Jerry —  December 12, 2010 — 1 Comment

The WikiLeaks case shines a bright light on all sorts of relationships, such as those between journalism and activism, secrecy and transparency, government and the media, national security and freedom of speech (not again!), and watchdogs and terrorists. The Times, they are a-changin’.

Some of the questions that leap out:

You can find all these articles in context in my online Brain (takes a moment for app to load):
Continue Reading…

The REXpedition stops people on the street (Well, not really.  We find them on Skype), and asks, “What is going on here?”

Chris Messina is a well-known advocate of the open web, starting as a leader of the community marketing of the launch of the popular Firefox web browser in 2004. He is a board member of the OpenID and Open Web Foundations, and plays an instrumental role in advancing OAuth and safer online computing (more bio here). He currently works at Google as an Open Web Advocate.

Todd Hoskins:  If I told you we are living in the “Relationship Economy,” what does that mean to you?

Chris Messina:  I’d say that the relationship economy is one where I can leverage or make available the various contacts and connections that I’ve nurtured over some period of time.

So, if someone is willing to give me some shareable benefit, I might turn around and promote that benefit to my friends or colleagues, or other people that I’m affiliated with who might have some kind of interest in that benefit.  Obviously this is similar to word-of-mouth, but it’s somewhat more durable, and would take place over time.

Todd:  Openness has been posited as a force within the Relationship Economy.  As an open web advocate, do you see the web becoming more open as a naturally evolving phenomenon, or do we have to push, pull, and campaign for it?

Chris:  Openness is unfortunately one of those words that’s become somewhat geriatric, losing its teeth and forgetting what it means . . . There’s the Facebook “Openness” and Adobe “Openness” and Government “Openness” and they all mean different things.

Continue Reading…

The REXpedition stops people on the street (Well, not really.  We find them on Skype), and asks, “What is going on here?”

Venessa Miemis is a futurist and digital ethnographer, researching the impacts of social technologies on society and culture and designing systems to facilitate innovation and the evolution of consciousness. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Media Studies at the New School in NYC.  Her recent work on the Future of Money has attracted attention from the Huffington Post and Fast Company.  The video is definitely worth seven minutes of your time.

Todd:  If I told you we are in the “Relationship Economy,” what does that mean to you?

Venessa:  I think we’re in a transition where we’re learning to renegotiate what “trust” means.  We’re not as interested in just arms-length transactions that keep us distanced from one another – we want to actually connect to other humans in a meaningful way and create value together.

Todd: How do you see openness playing out in this transition?

Venessa: I think it’s been an agreed upon paradigm for a long time that hoarding information and keeping it private is the proper framework for success.  Now, with accelerating change and increasing complexity, we’re seeing that this mentality leaves our infrastructures rigid and nonadaptive.  We are realizing that a degree of openness, sharing, and collaboration is necessary in order to solve problems and innovate.

Todd: What IS the future of money?

Venessa: Technology is a tool.  It is supposed to assist us in doing something more effectively and efficiently than could be done without it.  I see the web as a tool that gives us an advanced communication infrastructure and ability to make our wants, needs, and resources apparent.  This is only going to become more granular.  In time, we may realize that money in its current form is not the most effective means for allowing this information to flow.  We are going to quantify ourselves further (levels of trust, reputation, dependability, social connectedness), and new kinds of currencies will emerge that allow us to exchange value directly based on those metrics.

Todd: Thanks, Venessa!

Venessa Miemis and Gabriel Shalom recently interviewed a bunch of people concerned with what money is and where it might be going (including me). The result is a quick, useful, vibrant tour of how society sees wealth, value and the mechanisms for making those concepts useful in the world — today and on the horizon.

The Future of Money from KS12 on Vimeo.

Persistence: An Appreciation

Jerry —  October 17, 2010 — 6 Comments

Sometimes a secondary attribute is as important as the first, obvious attribute.

For example, with broadband connections, most everyone focuses on the speed. Ooooo: Megabits! Gigabits! Given a choice between a slower Net and a faster one, faster is definitely nicer, but the element we tend to slide past is that the connection is always available.

Remember the days of dialup, or even of expensive calls to BBSes through mysterious packet networks? Remember how long it would take to get connected and logged in? Those days are pretty much history.

Here I’d like to appreciate a different attribute of our infrastructure, the attribute that makes it different from — and better than — the phone system, the TV networks and other technologies that might seem similar.

That attribute of the Net is that we can leave things in it and they persist. They’re there when we come back, and while we’re away they’re available to others. “They” can be essays, songs, movies, code or other things.

You can’t leave anything in the phone or TV systems. Before I steal any more of my thunder, let me take you to the REXcast:

(And yep, I’ve stopped numbering the REXcasts.)