A Literacy of the Imagination

a deeper look at innovation through the lenses of media, technology, venture investment and hyperculture

Filtering by Tag: social currency

The Future Now of Influence -> #social #web #content #context #communities #intent #storytelling #Good

“Man's nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been known to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature.”
                                                               ~Mohandas Gandhi

Influence squared: Weaving together the human quilt.

The social web has, without question, connected all of us in profound ways.

I have personally built a network of people I greatly admire and respect, many of whom I have yet to meet in the physical world, some with whom I have built enough trust to the extent that we even work together on different projects. The emotional and intellectual bonds that we share often supersede geography. At times this feels strange or disorienting to a degree, but most often it reinforces the reasons why I exist: to ask the harder questions, to take on the bigger challenges and to help elevate human discourse... Even while I slog away as a corporate citizen ;)

Those with whom I have connected over time have only exceeded my perceptions and expectations of who they are and what they contribute to my experiences with them, not to mention the people we are connected to, and who they are connected to, and so on.

More importantly, we are converging around ideas and intentions that have arguably been redefined, even recontextualized, through more meaningful uses of communication. And while we do face great challenges with respect to how much we communicate, how personal we make those communications and the impetus for sustaining them (things we can ascribe to what Eli Pariser has aptly defined as our filter bubble), the notion of influence and all that it entails has brought to light some nuances worth examining.

The Future Now of Influence -> #social #web #content #context #communities #intent #storytelling #Good
[Malcolm's words ring true except for one thing: We don't need to find exceptional people, we become exceptions & find each other...]

The new Dialectic.

We might ask some core questions:

When we think about influence, what are the levers for being influential?
Why do we care? What do we care about?
What do we actually do about what we care about?

Can we remove the boundaries of physical space or geography? Does this distort our perceptions around intention and action? Can we delineate between passive and dynamic experiences?

What does real interaction look like?
Does it change us? Does it transform us?
Does it make us better people?
Does it make us care about the world around us?

Can we measure this depth and meaning in the form of actions that go well beyond an intent to sell or purchase?
Can we influence our friends and neighbors (altruistically) through direct exchanges of goods and services?

In the semantic work we have done with eCairn (a company I advise and have been intimately involved with over the last three years), it has been interesting to witness the shift in conversational dynamics, especially in how we have been able to analyze various lingual expressions and map those correlations to geographies and the communities within them.

The Future Now of Influence -> #social #web #content #context #communities #intent #storytelling #Good

[A map of content communities of or relating to “diabetes”; we can see hundreds of thousands of conversations at any given time, contextualized through expressions and degrees of influence – what we consider to be influence – and adapting to the nuances we see in those conversations. In essence, the user curates the data, and in the process, sees stories emerge between these nodes and connectors. The results are amazing; people make measurable contributions to the advancement of things like scientific research and nutritional awareness.]

In sum, we are starting to see expressions of behavior in which action and intent align — these seem to be the real proxies for influence. Moreover, our social profiles seem to be reliant upon those proxies, particularly as we move from an Internet of information to a web of things, places, objects and motivations.

The Future Now of Influence -> #social #web #content #context #communities #intent #storytelling #Good
[A geographic map identifying just a small sample of influencers interested or connected to communities around “beauty”; just in the social profiles themselves, we see multiple dimensions of what beauty is and can be to these people and communities, as well as the things they actually do in these areas to put their intentions into action. Many of them, as individuals and groups, are breaking down long-standing cultural mores...]

Any individual, group or organization that chooses to be relevant in the 21st Century must look at motivation as a driver for growth, whether that growth hinges on economic gain, social recognition, cultural elasticity or a combination of all three (or other crucial factors). In the most ideal of cases, they can become values we compete over that are inextricably linked. But they are not so much things we aspire to, rather things we must adopt, own and share as we evolve.

Looking fortuitously at the Future Now.

The Future Now is a state of mind and action. It is considerate of the past, immersed in the present and builds towards collaborative intent (a future state that permeates our thinking in the Now).

Perhaps the Future Now resides in the idea that commerce and art are no longer distant cousins (at least comparative to what they were, say, 30 years ago), but the connective tissue between our motivations to find meaning and purpose.

Strong ties come in small bits (with a longer tail).

In our academic and professional circles, we can argue ad infinitum over the true source of the revolutions in the Middle East, or what facilitated disaster relief in Haiti, or how micro-communities have been supported (or besieged) in Sub-Saharan Africa. What we can’t deny is how evolution stair-steps, often in smaller, measurable steps, weaving in and around the barriers we have created through technology. Be that as it may, technology only reveals to us a fundamental truth about our existence: that we are connected in unimaginable ways, and will only grow from those connections, intelligibly and emotively.

The purpose of social currency (social intent).

We work, live and think through a series of social exchanges, often daily, sometimes latently. If a Klout or Peer Index score or our share prices on Empire Avenue are the strongest indications of “influence”, then we might as well get bigger megaphones... Or opt for something softer, more congenial and far less egotistical. Don’t get me wrong, it is important that we explore these new territories of the virtual world and their emerging currencies, but lest we forget that artificial barriers abound, masking our intentions at every turn, whether we like it or not. Remember: We are nothing without our intent.

Conversations can’t be just conversations (by their very nature...).

Talk isn’t necessarily cheap (in fact, for many brands it’s quite expensive), it’s just a commodity when its scale lacks intention. When our intentions align, then our realities coalesce – they become preemptive, if not proactive. The mortgage crisis, product recalls, the healthcare debacles and the overall shortsales of human interest at the heels of austerity are all manifestations of fear... A lack of intention. But fear not, if history repeats itself so easily we also know that change is also easy to identify, despite the complexities of our world. A prediction: web ubiquity and contextual computation will only force this hand, and call most of us into meaningful action.

The Lady Gaga Misnomer (the truth about “superfandom”).

Speaking of meaningful action... At breakfast this morning, a friend and colleague of mine shared a great story about the phenomenon that is Lady Gaga. He had been talking with her manager at a dinner party, who said that amid the 32 million plus fans she has acquired in her young career, only 60 – that’s right, SIX-ZERO – are her real fans, her “superfans”, who make or break her career and its respective paths. They essentially do all the talking, all the doing and all the marketing for her. This might not be entirely surprising when we think about how careers, especially in music, are so easily made and destroyed. But perhaps there is something far more kinetic in this equation, which is the idea that influence is borne from an intention so strong, a passion so alive, that what springs from it cannot be stopped. It can’t be confined to words. More importantly, it defines the path of the ordained. Lady Gaga is just a woman who had an imagination and a heart bigger than her own self — she played the role of a superstar, an inspirational icon, even when she was only performing for audiences of 30. Imagine what would happen if we were all influenced in the same way... If we all conveyed the emotion she does through her work (whether you like it or not...) and through those she so profoundly influences.

Smart mesh networking (OkCupid’s silent mantra).

Think of love as the ultimate measure of influence and you can throw a dart in any given direction. Even more glaringly, you can enjoy the pleasures of making an actual love connection, a justifiably priceless endeavor, without feeling shame or abandonment if it doesn’t happen to “work out”. Borrowing once again from the Louis Cheskin school of sensation transference, the idea of mesh networks melds our minds and turns our hearts into, well, mush – love is a force that drives influence, in all its varying degrees, independently of technology or its endless trappings. This isn’t just good, bad or neutral sentiment though; this is something far more captivating. When conversation ends, what remains is a reckoning of sorts -- what dimensionalizes love, and why we use the darker sides of the psyche to give it new meaning. Imagine if we used our influence to turn our notions of love into currencies based around passion, affinity and goodwill. Call them Mush Networks if you must... But keep in mind that what keeps them alive are the stories we tell around them.

Stories of action and experience.

If we consider that Plato’s dialectic era intended to question the existence of things like love and the progenitors of it (or its great mysteries), perhaps now we can intend to question the whys and hows of beings as they exist in the natural world – a world as mysterious as it is precocious. In this sense, stories are not merely accounts or interpretations of things past, but of actions unfolding... Adaptive, colorful, emergent... Enlightening.

This is how communities tend to emerge. How they align. How they strengthen. How they act. How they influence the Future Now.

The influential conclusion.

In somewhat ironic summation:

A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.”
                                                                                    ~Niccolo Machiavelli

Hyperlocal Business: Shaping the Global Economy #brandutility #socialentrepreneurship #marketing #Good

The core tenet of capitalism, and its original intent, is to meaningfully align business and society. In the marketing world, this has been significantly challenged by the need to grab marketshare, most often through fairly rigid “top-down” approaches that bypass or overlook critical cultural elements that sustain relationships with consumers. But what if business could be socialized in such a way that brands wouldn't have to market to consumers, or consumers would need to market on the behalf of brands, rather they became a part of a bigger, holistic solution?

In the last few years, a host of companies have started to really evolve their marketing capabilities beyond talking about cultural or environmental ethos as some sort of corporate brand promise, to creating useful utilities as marketing extensions of their businesses. Social innovation is one of the many ways that brands not only create relevance around their core offerings, but invite themselves into new market opportunities that have great potential to scale. Part of this way of thinking is based on precepts tied to the socialization of products and services, and wholly emphasized in compelling insight from works like Umair Haque’s The New Capitalist Manifesto (a must read) and Michael Porter’s discourse on Rethinking Capitalism through shared value creation.

The applied use of social media to tactfully curate communications and generate awareness is one mechanism for value creation, but an even bigger driver for affinity-based values has been the transition from mere program-oriented efforts (donations, smaller educational initiatives, etc.) to fully robust platforms that actually help build infrastructure and spawn economic growth through concentrated, hyperlocal efforts.

Emerging within a new wave of social product innovations are sites like Quirky; Quirky is a great example of how retail, fashion, CPG, lifestyle brands and the like can mitigate the risks of product development and supply chain management through highly creative peoplesourcing approaches. Bed, Bath and Beyond is one retailer in Quirky’s partnership program that has piloted an initiative targeting college students, enlisting them in all stages of the product development process.

Hyperlocal Business: Shaping the Global Economy #brandutility #socialentrepreneurship #marketing #Good

An interesting dimension to this is that this particular effort builds currency around the influence of innovative ideas, and then compensates people for their influence accordingly. Both the retailer and the platform are truly making invention accessible, by aligning affinity, action and intent within a system that rewards participation, and in allowing participants to witness the positive effects of their work. Even more tactile to us as marketers is the idea that we can effectively match social currency systems with hard cash, and have full purview into the motivations behind our product affinities, as well as the proxies for purchase behavior (a holy grail scenario, in my honest opinion...).

Another impressive initiative is from the skin care brand, Dermalogica. Called FITE, this effort is focused on supporting women entrepreneurs in underdeveloped regions all over the world. The collaborative element includes support teams – led by community leaders, celebrities and local influencers – who can converge around specific, complex problem sets and even compete over local development, with the measuring sticks centered on how much is funded through microloans (via a partnership with Kiva) and how quickly those loans are used to build infrastructure. This is a emergent form of value co-creation, and while still nascent, shows that there is great hope even for the most challenged or depressed areas to take advantage of disintermediary methods for economic prosperity and a renewed sense of community .

Hyperlocal Business: Shaping the Global Economy #brandutility #socialentrepreneurship #marketing #Good

Other brands are making education portable, so as to help build longer-term economic strength through the lens of cultural development.  Terracycle’s effort with The Cloud Institute is an initiative that intends to make education truly sustainable, through practical, everyday uses of good “waste behavior”; here we see how scholastics can be used to weave information about the environment into daily routine, allowing good behavior to become the competitive set. A similar construct to the creative commons and an adjunct piece to sustainability education, the healthy commons is a means for breaking down long-standing mores around product consumption, nutritional well-being and environmental efficiency.

Hyperlocal Business: Shaping the Global Economy #brandutility #socialentrepreneurship #marketing #Good

There are numerous examples like these, and the good news is that social innovation market opportunities abound, especially as banking and government institutions struggle to find their feet again (or find themselves in a constant state of disrepair). Looming even larger is the distinct possibility that these “business extensions” will actually become the spokes of a burgeoning, viable economic model that liberates companies from having to own infrastructure, and instead, enable its many uses. Further, the global implications are enormous; hyperlocal frameworks present unlimited scale.

Changing cultural behavior and defying normative identities and actions are the cornerstones for hyperlocal impact, and as we’ve discovered through social networking dynamics, the ability for those actions to propagate as shared values and assets culminates in profound global economic impact. As disintermediary efforts, we can see a number of elements at play:

The ability to make social participation active rather than passive.
The ability to make reward truly reciprocal.
The ability to fund independently & regeneratively.
The ability to educate collaboratively.
The ability to create new forms of social currency.
The ability to create new, alternative hard currencies.
The ability to develop emerging markets.
The ability to partner large (or small) organizations with local business.
The ability to make entrepreneurship not only an option, but a core mindset.
The ability to develop new standards for supply chain management & quality assurance.
The ability to support or enable new civil systems.
The ability to strengthen communities with new, collective intelligence.
The ability to renew capitalism as a value proposition of the people.

And ultimately, the ability to show that Good, in every sense, is far more profitable than Greed.

What do you see as a need or opportunity in your local community?
What brands would you or could you enlist to support you in this vision?
Who of your friends and family can you go to right now?

Remember: We are all global citizens with opportunity to action our passions and intent at the hyperlocal level.

The Socialization of Products & Services #prosperity #good #utility #LBS #Junto

After writing a piece on The Memetic Web & The Internet of Products several weeks ago, I started to think more about the implications products and services would have on the Attention Economy and why the notion of “social” seems to be so often misconstrued in the larger context of the marketing and media worlds.

  We talk a lot about social in terms of things like corporate communications, CRM, content development and to a greater extent, sharing behaviors – all of which are great, mind you – but I think what we don’t talk about enough or even build into our subsequent strategies and executions is the very thread of what social is in an empathic and evolutionary sense... Which is to do and propagate good.

  It’s interesting because doing good is the underpinning of the behavioral economics movement. One of the criticisms from “traditionalists” of this movement is that behaviors have always been a proxy for understanding value systems, currencies and market dynamics, but I think that misses the point: traditional economists have looked at more binary constructs such as cause-and-effect, rather than speculating over or even creating proactive systems by which people and companies create and compete over value.

  To a point that Umair Haque has made many times and in reference to what he has coined as a “betterness model”, this is about relationships, not transactions.

  In other words, social commerce endeavors to build a layer of trust, transparency and authenticity that facilitates purchases, and perhaps even expedites them. Back in February of this year, the McKinsey Quarterly published an insightful piece on behavioral economics for marketers that talked about how payments, like all losses, are viscerally unpleasant, yet emotions experienced in the present—now—are especially important.

  Trust, transparency and authenticity are of course tenets of communication that we have been discussing since “social media” arrived at the marcom gates, but what we are looking at in the context of now --  the real-time experience -- are means by which these things are actionable and of real value, and ultimately, benefactors of good.

  So, if we look at the LBS (location-based services) space, for example, we find ourselves at a very critical intersection; most commonly, check-ins are thought of as gateways for direct purchasing, or at least a funnel to market products directly, when they should be used as a bridge to create relational value. Much in the same way Twitter has been used as a DM funnel, relational value is something that seems to get lost in the barrage of special offers, promotions and price fixes that attract people to the “one-time, one-hit buy”; we simply cannot forget why people get emotional over purchases, or, why they seek emotional support from their peers when making them.

We are talking about relationships to products and services that have special meaning to people in their everyday lives, as defined by them in the context of their own needs and wants. Going a step further, one might argue that the exchange of credits and currencies are duly representative of an emotional bond we have with these experiences. This is, in part, why philosophers and media scholars like Pierre Levy have taken decades of behavioral research to build language systems out of symbolic logic, and to apply those systems to a number of social and economic models.

  Microfinance (Kickstarter, Kiva, et al) and virtual currency systems (Habbo, Facebook Credits, etc.), while still very nascent, are just two indicators of this paradigm shift. There is of course, the partnership between Zynga’s Farmville and 7-Eleven that features products that can be redeemed through Farmville credits (disclosure: 7-Eleven is a RAPP client), but there are other retailers like H&M, Best Buy (another RAPP client), Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond who have evolved their own business models to include a transition into utility-based marketing. And by utility, I mean something that people use that helps them improve their daily lives.

  In fact, not too long ago, Best Buy acknowledged that in the very near future, it would no longer be a retailer as we know it to be, rather a progenitor of goods and services that would co-create value through utility. This means that commodity products like televisions will be sold as secondary offerings and as a part of bundled services that would feature things like energy efficiency and energy savings as the real value sets in the purchase cycle. Moreover, this cycle will be sustained by virtue of meaningful replenishment, or the need for people to update this utility package through critical information sharing and product development, supported by the brand and co-created through its consumer relationships.

  Alex Bogusky spoke about this very transition in a keynote to the Best Buy brass right around this time last year, one that addressed utility in the context and respective dynamics of the “connected world” (BTW, if you haven’t seen this before, I would encourage you to watch the entire series...).

  What’s also an interesting point in Bogusky’s address is his reference to the notion of accelerated return, and more specifically, Ray Kurzweil’s prophetic assertion that technology is an offshoot of biology. The larger implication here is that we are literally developing products and marketing them within ecosystems that we must carefully manage and maintain, simply because if we as brands and agencies don’t do this, these ecosystems will move right past us. This is also why the notion of building platforms versus mere campaigns is so vitally important for us to embrace.

  Now of course the retail space is just one of many verticals that will soon undergo some very profound shifts in the socialization of products and services, and our new reality as a connected and parity-driven world holds us to an entirely new way of doing business, and it is also likely that very soon we will be seeing some very interesting cross-pollinations of brand utility as well as vertical integration between complementary, or previously less compatible, industries. As I’ve entertained in previous posts and articles, we might even see competing brands play in the same sandbox over a common interest initiative, an educational program or something that builds sentient development within specific youth groups. These days, anything is possible.

  So what are the new consideration sets? Here are a few things to chew on.

Scarcity can be redefined & managed better.

Scarcity has been regarded for years as the fundamental economic problem of seemingly unlimited human needs and wants, in a world of limited resources (source: Wikipedia). Scarcity drives these needs and wants into a translation of market value, which then experiences fluctuations in price based on basic supply and demand. But here’s the catch: if we have the ability to (co)create the resources, then market value is no longer restrictive. The core proposition of the connected world and what retailers like Best Buy are advocating is the transference of sustainable goods and services. In other words, the need becomes the product. The layers we build and package on top of that are the new markets, and therefore the utilities of real value. And just as we were able to bridge brick-and-mortar thinking with the Internet Economy, we now have a new opportunity to manage scarcity as a by-product of human resourcefulness.

Value truly begets value.

Looking at value under the lens of human resourcefulness, one of the great intellectual and aspirational challenges of economists in the modern era is the notion of what value can really be. At a more rudimentary level, this is most often talked about in the distinction between transactional value (things we purchase with or for hard currency) and reciprocal value (things we trade or exchange). Where and how we end up on the value chain shouldn’t be of grave concern, after all, just within the last 30 years we’ve built entire economies or micro-economies on products and services that were completely new. Our focus should be on the relationship between reciprocity and how transacting becomes a function of intent, meaning that we share most what can most use as utilities. From there, market opportunities (namely white spaces) abound.

‘Best’ means most connected.

It seems that one of biggest misconceptions about platforms like Groupon is that the ‘best’ offer is one that is shared the most; this may be the case, but the bigger potential lies in how the offer itself scales to fit the needs of people. Just as transacting has been confined to single or a series of like repeat purchases, reciprocity shouldn’t be confined to a single act or series of like acts in which people share. True sharing, as with those experiences characteristic in memes, is a function of evolution, change and adaptation.

Purchases are not only emotional, they are truly relational.

We have known for many years that purchase decisions are made based on emotion. Whether this is a function of brand, product messaging or a simple gut motivation is also becoming more and more irrelevant, and fact is, not only are “consumers” inundated with myriad tag lines and indignant calls-to-action, but arguably they seek out the opinions of their peers just to avoid them. There is good reason why platforms like openIDEO and Quirky have taken off – because what we buy is now a manifestation of what we create, and that co-created value is what will be soon driving the supply chain and predominantly directing our purchase decisions.

Pricing is a mechanism of relational value, not (so much) market value.

One glaring example of this is how Amazon sells books through its Kindle app at a price-point that is well below market value. Why? Because there is more value in what Amazon gives you as a provider of utility. The trust the brand earns with you both in social currency (that which is deemed valuable by you and then passed along to others) and what your social graph then propagates as potential goods and services is invaluable, not only in mitigating supply chain issues (demand sensing) but also in recalibrating demand in a way that is dictated by a healthier balance of reason, emotion and sentience.

  These are exciting times, indeed. The question remains as to what we are willing to do right now not only as marketers, but as intermediary businesses.

  Thoughts? Opinions? Upheavals?

Notes From Norway: Developing Our Social Capital(ism) #microfinance #Eco #PeopleCurrency #memes #Junto

Notes From Norway: Developing Our Social Capital(ism) #microfinance #Eco #PeopleCurrency #memes #Junto

If you haven’t been to Norway, you should definitely visit. This is coming from a guy who has been here less than 48 hours of course, but I have to say that there are a lot of things to love.

Norway, I’ve learned, is actually one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The country came into billions when a new oil surplus was discovered not too long ago, and the government here has done a great job of redistributing its wealth to its people. The average Norwegian - when you consider an individual’s asset base - is a millionaire, and the quality of life is amazing. There are no homeless people; there are “gypsies” who choose to live nomadically, and they are very few and far between.

Notes From Norway: Developing Our Social Capital(ism) #microfinance #Eco #PeopleCurrency #memes #Junto

In Norway, like Sweden, people are incented to have children in order to increase the tax base. Medical benefits are essentially free. Foreigners who come here can enjoy these benefits within 6 months of their arrival, and education is available to anyone who wants it (for free). If you want to start a business, the government will give you the money, and you can even enjoy a variety of tax benefits. You even get a vacation stipend every year that is the equivalent of 12% of your annual income.

The irony of the country’s oil wealth is represented in its Eco-driven culture. Here, everything is essentially renewable, from lighting to recyclables. When you use the toilet, that energy is used to power the city grid. And like Finland, much of its infrastructure is set up to sustain scalable initiatives, such as wind power and solar arrays.

Someone we met (“we” meaning my fiancee, Emily, and I) who has been a gracious host is an American named Jim-Anthony. “Anthony”, as he likes to be called, is a former banker who was embroiled in the CDO (collateralized debt obligations – a form of mortgage-backed securities) mess on Wall Street, and after experiencing the excess of life with the power elite in New York City, he changed careers and decided to come to Norway to live a more “pure” life. Now he manages a hotel here (the Grims Grenke) and has a number of entrepreneurial endeavors. He’s a happy man, fulfilled by the promise of being enriched by people and an environment not absorbed in the surface of things.

Anthony and I had a long talk about the definition of social capital.

He believes, as I do, that American life is evolving past the promise of its own doing, which is to say that the American people are a good lot, and our country continues to be anomalous in many respects, including its fight for sovereignty, its persistence on innovation and the quest to help developing nations. Perhaps it’s not our systems of government or business that pose the greatest challenges to us, but a lack of cultural perspective that has left us socially corrupt. We are, after all, the products of a democratic evolution that has used capitalism as a crutch for survival, one in which hard currency has been depleted and given way to a credit system that has left us bound to our own vaporous trail of confusion, deceit and a significant loss of hope.

As a colleague, Gerald Posner, has astutely pointed out, what if we could create currency that didn’t rely on capital inputs?

Bernard A. Lietaer’s “complementary currency” comes to mind when we speak of social capital – the notion that credit systems can build resource pools and use barter – one of the great forms of participatory reward – to incite economic and social growth. For example, imagine if all the people who played in Farmville (60M+ users) on Facebook actually traded their goofy animals and farm resources in energy credits, so that they were reselling things of social value (and economic value), things that they could see were having an immediate impact on their physical world.

Before I flew over here, I had an incredible (and lengthy) conversation with one of the founding partners of the oldest and most reputable VC firms in the world, Trafalgar. This gentleman regaled me with stories linked to the global financial crisis (he knows all the heads of the banks – or what used to be the ‘banks’ – Goldman Sachs, for example, as you probably know is about to bite the dust…), and he’s very embittered by what’s happened, both economically and culturally.

Well, sure enough, his firm is now dedicated to ventures that are not only sustainable (mostly in the sense of corporate transparency), but those that do good in the world.

Here’s the best part. They are specifically looking for platforms that merge communities and microfinance. The quick and simple backstory on this is that the venture capitalist’s daughter is doing some incredible work using microfinance communities in Africa to adopt and/or support children there. His work in China has also influenced the thought that meme development must be implemented in order to create mindshifts that can break destructive socio-economic patterns, while embracing traditional value systems. A couple of lateral examples of this would be the recent (or fairly recent) Avatar demonstrations that took place in Palestine (a form of ‘transmedia activism’), and the recent (albeit incremental) advancements of the democratic voting platform in Iraq that has been largely shaped by scholars of Hammurabi.

[A quick aside, I am here in Oslo to speak about transmedia storytelling; you can check out the live stream on Wednesday, April 28th, at http://www.gulltaggen.com or http://www.gulltaggen.no]

Naturally, I told him about Junto and our microfinance platform effort, UBIQUID.US, and his eyes lit up. (BTW,  by “our” I mean a core group of instigators and disruptors, but really all of us…)

What I told him next, and his response, gave me great solace – I emphasized that the conversation pieces (Junto et al) could NOT be commercialized, and that the entire paradox of the social web has revolved around the fact that open networks (or what could have been open networks) – and their respective participatory dynamics – have largely been cattle-prodded and herded into distending “pockets” of idea and information-sharing. A good example of an open network model is what Cisco is now doing with its telepresence.

Needless to say, he got it right away.

His response jumped ahead to the notion that capital markets could be socialized (as in a social capitalistic kind of way, not a socialist kind of way…) and that it was now the duty of entities like his to show regulatory concerns and other government and lobbyist groups the co-created value of networks. In other words, to show the gatekeepers that open networks are evolving and cannot be denied the right to life and practice, and in a larger sense, that these dynamics can actually improve what they themselves do.

We agreed that corporations of all types and sizes could actually profit handsomely from this, while of course improving and supporting local communities (the argument here is who cares if they’re not totally “invested” in affecting change, so long as the urgency to do so – by whatever economic conditions that predominate – forces that hand in getting them there). We also talked about how transmedia storytelling and participatory narratives could be used to productize, remove copyright boundaries, co-create value, and allow individuals (via social graph) to flourish alongside of companies.

We also both agreed that value could now be created without the need for capital input, or even capital output. The implications for this are astounding in two ways:

1. This suggests an entire re-engineering and re-instutionalization of our failed credit system, one that is community moderated and curated.  

2. It also suggests that participatory reward can now live within the context of true cause & effect – meaning that people who have been previously “uninspired” will now see the impetus in defining their own roles as active contributors to society.

So, take for example, the notion of smart grid credits — use these to watch energy efficiency spike, map it out spatially (geomapping and data volumization) and link it to other early stage efforts (there are bunch of disparate groups already doing this) so that people can see and be the change. (On a more crude level – this type of currency aside – hark back to the Obama election and remember how roughly 30% of the voting populace were those who had never registered or voted before.)

If we can put shared currency – what amounts to collective infrastructure – behind these types of efforts, and be fully transparent… particularly with government concerns (this is VERY important), then we are looking at incredibly efficient, and relatively swift, ways to improve the world.

So coming back full circle (sorry), effectively, we’re already doing it. Junto, for example, is a social experiment using an open telepresence to prove that innovation is not the sum of processes, rather the reflexivity of intellectual expression and the spontaneous development of co-created value systems.

What do you think? What types of social capital can we create?


More Social Currency Evolving... (Like Swine Flu)

Our friends from TRÜF discovered an interesting follow-up to the Obama/Joker poster. This street campaign seemingly goes on the offense against some folks’ favorite right-wing bag of gas, Rush Limbaugh. Fair or not, and after comparing Obama and Pelosi to Nazis, spewing hate on a daily basis and being guilty of nothing short of inciting violence, semantics seem to point to just about anything that links him to the word "swine". Unlike the Obama/Joker poster, this one seems to have a more pointed message. One guess is that it is something about the viral and toxic nature of certain right-leaning commentators. Or maybe something bigger: is true mass influence sourced from good intentions, or evil ones?

Which begs the question: who will adopt this currency as their own, and what new statement will they make of it?

Further, are we ready for the street campaign battles that are about ensue?

Perhaps are collective conscience is taking hold of itself and revealing different faces in the process...

Oh yeah, and if you’re curious and ready to spread the conversation, be sure to remember the hashtag #H1N1 in your tweets... Gotta be true to a viral phenomenon.