Archives For Relationship Economy

If you didn’t post a video to YouTube, you can’t alter it. The machine translation of the TEDx talk I gave last October about education is awful, so I listened to my talk and transcribed it. Aside from saying “so” and “let me” too many times, it ages well. Here’s the full text:

What If We Trusted You – transcript

Go back in your minds to fourth grade. Put yourselves in fourth grade and I am your teacher, if that doesn’t frighten you too much. You are in my writing class and I’ve given you a poetry assignment.

So, you’re actually writing. You’re in the flow, the words are pouring out of your fingertips, you’re really happy. You’re in that place where you’re making something beautiful…

And then all of a sudden, the bell goes off.

Like, what’s up with that? What do we all know is going to happen right now? What’s the next thing that’s going to happen? You’re going to put down your pens, and you’re going to go to math class, right?

Continue Reading…

How will we deal with abundance?

Jerry —  April 24, 2013 — 1 Comment

Provoked by Tim Wu’s review of the book Abundance, Chris Mitchell of ILSR asked whether abundance might not be too much. Won’t we get bogged down in all the choices we have to make?

I love this question because I think seeing abundance (and acting in ways that generate abundance) is a big piece of the solution to the world’s present woes. As a point example, here’s 8 minutes on how we needlessly create artificial scarcity in education, when in fact there is abundance.

We’re just so accustomed to the institution as it exists today — in this case, education — that we can’t see the abundance, which violates many of our dearly held beliefs.

The problem with sudden abundance that Chris described is the Tyranny of Choice (pdf), which Barry Schwartz has investigated well, and Malcolm Gladwell has popularized by writing and speaking about it in his appealing way (I think it’s in this TED talk). A typical story: When faced with 23 jam samples, people bought fewer than when they saw only three. Our mental fuses pop when there’s too much to consider.

When the Cluetrain cabal announced that Markets Are Conversations, a common complaint was that nobody wants to enter a negotiation or selection decision every time they are thirsty for a soda pop. Yup. No doubt.

The good news is that over time we get used to abundance. We form habits. We learn what we like, we share opinions, we groove behaviors that make us happy. Now and then we change them.

The advent of the Internet is the latest firehose of abundance in our lives (compare to the telegraph, then TV). Despite all the hyperbole already written about the Net, it is an amazing thing. Now we can communicate instantaneously with half the humans on this pale blue dot, at zero marginal cost.

Now everything people write on line is available, as well as their movies, tunes, scribbles and (sigh) breakfast photos (well, Zittrain and Pariser show how companies and governments are trying to stop this wanton open sharing, but I’m hopeful it’ll be around a while).

We’re at such an interesting moment in history. When I run workshops about the great change afoot, I’ll sometimes read out loud the semi-famous paragraph from Borges’ short story The Aleph, in which he describes seeing everything that ever happened, is happening, and will happen, through the Aleph (it’s the paragraph that begins “On the back part of the step”).

The Net is our modern Aleph. It just showed up a few years ago.

We’re overwhelmed now, as we should be. (It’s an Aleph!) Since the dawn of hominins (is that what we’re calling our precursors now?), nobody has been able to do what the Net now lets us do — a pretty good reason to preserve Freedom to Connect, if you ask me. It will take us a while to sort out how to deal with it all. Along the way, many of us will just check out or give up. So it goes.

But we humans do sort things out. We find clever mechanisms to sift through the torrent to find what we want. Today it’s hashtagsWODsplaylists, timelines, concept maps and pinboards. Tomorrow, who knows? We curate, share and recommend. We create better tools. Our perception of the environment evolves over time.

The bigger win, though, is when we let abundance back in to industries and sectors of life that have been denuded by notions like “scarcity equals value,” or by social norms and cultural conventions based on trying to stop bad actors from acting badly, rather than on cooperation, then dealing with the bad actors later.

Think about copyright overprotection. Treating the radio spectrum as if it were real estate along a beachfront. The compulsory education system. At the start of this post I pointed to that 8-min screencast about education. I amplify on it in my TEDx talk, which plays out this idea of designing from trust in education, and teases about more.

That’s all fodder for much more than these couple paragraphs. It’s the foundation of the Relationship Economy.

Early on, when the firehose opens up, the barriers crumble and all the new choices multiply, this process takes patience. But it leads to a better world.

Spend a few minutes with Jordan Grader or Leah Perlman and you’ll discover why The Happiness Institute is bound to be a special place.

They’ve just opened the doors to HI and are still discovering who shows up and how they’ll use their space, which used to be a TV studio. It’s in its chrysalis phase, on the way to being a happiness-centered open university. Or something like that.

On Saturday, January 7, I’ll be exploring the Relationship Economy at HI from 10am to 4pm. In the spirit of happiness, you won’t be staring at my talking head the whole time. We’ll gnaw on some thorny questions together, hear from others with groovy, resonant ideas and mix it up, all with the goal of expanding our collective understanding of this Relationship Economy critter. We’ll also be recording a bunch, to create some media artifacts for use later.

Attendance maxes out at 70; the cost is a lunch fee. The Facebook invite page is here.

Background materials are mostly on this blog. I’d recommend the posts explaining the REXpedition, exploring abundance (in education) and looking at creators and Wikipedia. If you’re feeling adventuresome, learn about my Brain (and dive in yourself), and also browse the abundance and REX Prezis.

Upward spiral

Jerry —  November 13, 2011 — Leave a comment

About a year ago, I watched two videos within days of each other. Their cumulative effect gave me an important aha! moment.

The first was recommended by Arthur Brock during a really interesting conversation. He warned me that the video quality was poor, and boy, is it ever: picture bad VHS with weak sound, and the content is a bearded fellow who is waxing philosophically about nature. I almost tuned out, till I tuned in. Then I started hearing how Paul Krafel went around the Northern California hills near his home with a trowel and some awesome groundrules, which helped him heal the landscapes with simple, steady effort. Here’s that video.

The second video I happened across a few days later. It was a ten-minute segment of an hour-long documentary about the Loess Plateau, a part of inland China the size of Belgium and composed primarily of a fertile but very erosive soil called Loess.

The documentarian, John Liu, visited this area over a ten-year period. At the start, the area is dusty and brown; its residents are poor and leaving. Then, at a scale completely different from Paul Krafel, the local government uses principles similar to Krafel’s to heal the countryside. Here’s the whole documentary, so you can see for yourself how that story ends.

Seeing the second film got me to understand the first. Both together got me thinking two big things:

  1. What are the groundrules they were using, and can they be generalized?
  2. What would it be like to work in the world that way all the time? To create upward spirals wherever you go?
That’s the inspiration for this notion of Upward Spiral, which we’ll be revisiting here often.
Then I started noticing more initiatives like those that had inspired me.

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.

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

Presentation/Dialog/Networking

The NeXus
1414 Harbour Way South, #1010
Ford Point at Marina District
Richmond, CA 94804
Directions
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

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.)

The public side of REX — this blog and the various materials that weave into it — is a conversation about what a Relationship Economy means to individuals, organizations and society as a whole.

Here, we’ll compare this thesis to others, take the thesis deep into different sectors of the world economy, explore its many layers and possibilities (such as the relationship between the commercial economy and gift exchange, between scarcity and value, and between what is paid and what is free), and gradually make it more tangible.

There’s also a private REXpedition, a membership cohort that I convene and facilitate. This group will pursue aspects of the Relationship Economy thesis that it finds most compelling, shaping them and testing them in the real world. Occasionally, this group will run experiments or build prototypes, bringing to life some of the entities and services that are needed so we can all thrive in the Relationship Economy.

This video is my brief explanation of the REXpedition as a whole, with its complementary public and private sides.

If you’re interested in joining the private REXpedition, please contact me directly. If you’re interested in this quest generally, just follow this blog.