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18 December 2006

I am Time Magazine's “Person of the Year” (*) !

(*) As millions of other web 2.0 enthusiasts.

Yes, Time Magazine chose all the bloggers, the wikis’users, the online Forum members and other Web-based collaborators as their Person of the Year 2006 (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/
0,9171,1569514,00.html?aid=434&from=o&to=http%3A//www.time.com/time/magazine/article/
0%2C9171%2C1569514%2C00.html
).
This is a fantastic recognition of this exponentially growing movement unleashing a power for the individual equalling that of political leaders!
This power relies on a core principle: a Worldwide reach.

I particularly love the conclusion of the article:

Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There's no road map for how an organism that's not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion. But 2006 gave us some ideas. This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It's a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who's out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you're not just a little bit curious.”

My question now is what should this mean for Organizations? The answer must depend on what aspect of the Organization we are considering: internal or external.

Externally, this “new kind of international understanding” will mean new ways for Organizations to reach their customers. However, not simply to communicate but to collaborate with them. Customers will increasingly expect and value being involved throughout the product life cycle, from the idea generation to the after-sales services.

Internally, Organizations will need to quickly realise that many of their collaborators are also “Person of the Year”. They will expect similar collaborative facilities within the Organization to the ones they use at home. Of course, internally you need a higher degree of control than on the Web for security and confidentiality, with user access rights to sensitive information. However, it is also clear that efficiently and effectively connecting all the brains working in an Organization can generate value. How many of us have experienced the annoying realization that a collaborator had the answer to a problem that at the time required external help, simply because you had no easy way of finding the answer internally (in other words, reinventing the wheel).

Peter-Anthony Glick
http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com

08 December 2006

The virtuous cycle of the Gift Economy

«Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself
Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910)

You all must read Dave Pollard’s latest post “The virtuous cycle of the Gift Economy” (http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2006/12/06.html#a1718 ). It did make me realise that I already intuitively knew this but it just needed to rise from my sub-conscience. It did!

This virtuous cycle looks great but I believe that a more realistic state would be somewhere in between the Capitalist and the Gift Economies. These two as defined in Dave’s diagram are extremes and as such should be avoided. Our current world tends to gravitate closer to the capitalist end of the spectrum so we need to collectively push in the other direction. However, I don’t see the World moving all the way to a “complete” Gift Economy. I am not sure that it would be such a great World to leave in anyway. If all hierarchies were to disappear and everyone would share most of what they need/want and purchase only what they need and cannot obtain in any other way, some would quickly seize opportunities for taking advantages and build monopolies by controlling the production of what must be purchased.

Another potential flaw of the extreme Gift Economy model is the relative loose definition of an individual’s “needs”. What is seen as non-essential for some will be seen as essential for others. This is already the case in our mostly capitalist economy of course, but it is regulated by each individual’s purchasing power. I cannot afford a large home with a swimming pool therefore it wont even appear in my list of short-term needs, but I can still work towards it because I would love to swim every morning. In a Gift Economy, you could ideally imagine that I would team up with 10 neighbours and finance our shared swimming pool (or better build it ourselves!). Two problems: 1) not exactly the same level of privacy and convenience; and 2) I might struggle to find the necessary number of neighbours with the same “need”. Therefore, I might find myself force to still work enough to be able to afford my pool. Now, if you assume that most people will face a similar issue for a specific need within the communities (virtual or not) they are part of, wouldn’t we end up with a capitalist-like spiral again?

Having said that, we should still steer the Economy away from the all-encompassing Capitalism.

How can each one of us contribute to this effort? By “simply” doing more things ourselves (I will start by sorting out this annoying faulty living-room light switch myself). It also means engaging in more value-adding social networks. Two other recent blogs from Dave illustrates what this mean.
First, a social network diagram: http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2006/12/01.html
Then a list of examples of SNAs (social networking applications) sorted by function:
http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2006/12/05.html

I will use more of these tools myself and will promote their use around me and see what happens.

Peter-Anthony Glick

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