Tracing the shift from "command and control" to "champion and channel."
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Even More Excitement
Don't quite know what's happening - but the stars must be aligning. First, I got offered a job yesterday, and today I got a call to appear as a panelist on Leading Innovation at an upcoming conference at The Banff Centre.
I'll be sure to frame whatever I talk about in the context of The Support Economy, Xpertweb, blogging, the battles over Digital Rights and Digital Identity, and so on.
Hmmm....lots of preparation and focus for what will probably be a 3-minute soundbite. What the hell.
I have posted several times on The Support Economy, in which Zuboff and Maxmin have stated that the digital infrastructure (is (or will be, eventually) in place to enable the "next episode of capitalism".
Now, some proactive deep thinkers are taking the next step. Britt Blaser has done some superb thinking through how buyers and sellers can interact based on need, expertise and reputation (maybe like eBay but for a wider range of needs and services ?). His proposal is called Xpertweb.
Xpertweb has attracted the interest and energy of Flemming Funch and Mitch Ratcliffe, and managed to attract the attention of Doc Searls, who thinks the architecture and the capability it implies are very significant.
It seems to me that if Xpertweb or its derivatives work, and if The Support Economy eventually becomes the next form of capitalism, the organizational forms that are spawned will not operate on hierarchical principles. This model will create an understanding of wirearchy, and how it operates. For now, the means to bring wirearchy into being are being explored, and the blueprints are being pored over by the architects, engineers and contractors.
New Aspen Institute Report Examines How Internet is Altering
Diplomacy and World Affairs
The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program (C&S) released a
report today on the impact of network structures and technologies on the
conduct of world affairs. This timely report, The Rise of Netpolitik: How
the Internet Is Changing International Politics and Diplomacy, reflects the
insights of top-level leaders from the worlds of politics, diplomacy,
finance, high technology, academia, and philanthropy who met at the Aspen
Institute to consider new ways of understanding how information technology
is changing the powers of the nation-state, the conduct of international
relations, and the very definition of national security.
"Netpolitik is different from Realpolitik or global interdependence," said Charles M.
Firestone, executive director of the Communications and Society Program. "It
focuses on the primacy of the network structure as an organizing principle
for the conduct of world affairs. In this complex world of blurring borders,
flattened hierarchies and heightened ambiguity, the new rules of diplomacy
involve the astute uses of social, media, financial and other international
networks. The US is, after all, at war with a network. How do we combat
terrorism and other modern degradations without using all of our various
network resources in this new environment?"
The Rise of Netpolitik also looks at the role of storytelling in a world where the Internet and other
technologies bring our competing stories into closer proximity with each
other, and where stories will be interpreted in different ways by different
cultures. In the way it distributes these myths and stories, the Internet is
changing the environment for understanding cultures throughout the world
I interviewed a number of people in the vicinity of Independence Mall about their views of a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. No one I spoke with was particularly well informed. But what struck me about those in favor of invading Iraq was the cavalier way in which they talked about it. Their message, essentially, was: "Saddam's a bad guy. It's time for him to go."
I got no sense that they thought of war as a horrible experience. No one mentioned the inevitable carnage. No one spoke as if they understood that war is always hideous, even if it's sometimes necessary.
How bad will things have to get before it becomes transparent that consent has been manufactured?
Via Ming, John Perry Barlow on Digital Rights Management (DRM) and some key aspects of wirearchy:
"There are three things at stake. The first is, extending a monopoly to a few large organizations about what people can or cannot know and express. This is really about the control of information and it has the potential to become over time a kind of private totalitarianism. That is not an exaggeration since it has already happened in the United States. The reason that the U.S. is behaving in the completely irrational and dangerous way that it is, is because we have erected private totalitarianism and are suffering a reality distortion field that is as dangerous as the one erupted in Germany in the 1930s. But not being driven by the government, but being driven by the media. Being driven by ourselves. I fear erecting a system which highly advantages a very few corporate channels for human intellectual exchange.
Secondly, I fear that Digital Rights Management today is Political Rights Management tomorrow. That embedding these kinds of technological controls into the very architecture of computing has the capacity to become a form of political control in the not so distant future. Because you're putting at a very basic level surveillance capacity, control over what information may or may not travel, and a whole range of things in the architecture that can be very easily used to suppress dissent.
Third, I am very afraid, that by wrapping a large amount of human knowledge up into bottles that can no longer be opened except at a price, much of it will be wrapped up in crypto bottles that in a very fairly short time cannot be opened even at a price. A huge amount of human creativity will simply be lost for future generations."
Cliff Figallo talks about "Putting conversation to work." He's one of the founders of The Well.
"Attention is energy," he says: the person being attended to gets energy from it, including people who are being jerks.
Conversations that work, he says, are different than ones where people connect for enjoyment. He's thinking of conversations as something that organizations do to get their jobs done. "Power imbalances destabilize conversations." In business conversations, there's often an imbalance. Thus a "subtext" develops in which you can read the disenfranchisement. To keep a business conversation going, the business has to evolve into something more egalitarian. But within the conversation, first you have to acknowledge the power imbalance. Second, you should have a "full value contract": everyone agrees that they're going to listen to one another, respect one another, and do what they can to encourage one another speak.
The reason the schema is the big deal is that it does for economics what all the Internet's equipment does for electronic transmissions—enforce an agreement on how to play nice with each other. That's a bracing thought: unlike anyone else, Xpertweb people are subject to an overarching economic agreement enforced by forms and scripts conforming to their agreement
The previous set of agreements we had about how to govern, how to exchange value with each other - didn't foresee the 'Net. Hierarchy was the dominant form of structure, because there were no easy mechanisms (physical or social) to share a wide range of information. Sure, you could whisper and gossip, but the main forms of distributing information favored the rich and powerful - and our laws have reinforced this.
In the 'Net Age, our agreements will become our structures.