Creating a Disruptively Better Economy

“Writing is a way of organizing thought. Publishing is a way of receiving feedback.” ~ Frank Chimero

In ‘The Element‘, Sir Ken Robinson highlights ‘the importance of Identifying Passion and Redefining Creativity’.
In ‘Starfish and The Spider‘, Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom identify “the unstoppable power of leaderless organisations” and “inevitability and need for ever-changing models in our ever-changing and ever-connecting world”.
In ‘Life Inc.‘, Douglass Ruskoff asks ‘should our infrastructures/governments/education/systems be focused on creating good citizens and well-ness/well-being rather than economic performance and growth?’
In ‘Affluenza and The Selfish Capitalist‘, Oliver James provides evidence that ‘material affluence and extrinsic value(s) can produce the opposite of happiness’.
In ‘Drive‘, Daniel Pink provides ‘scientifically surprising truths about human-motivation’ and how ‘autonomy, mastery and purpose can far exceed financial reward in the value stakes’.
In ‘The Social Entrepreneur‘, Andrew Mawson provides his experienced insight towards “the empowering importance of Personal Responsibility over Personal Right(s)”
In ‘The New Capitalist Manifesto‘, Umair Haque (a thought leader in the field of Economics and Business Innovation) highlights that ‘our current economy, business strategies, policies and mindsets are unsustainable – we need to change or die.’

For many years, my work, endeavors, experience and research has (and continues), to inspire me to ponder such important things and I’ve challenged myself to do and learn about active participation and empowering human-focused responsibility and value-conversation(s).

“What good is an energy industry that destroys the atmosphere? What good is a media industry that, with relentlessly intrusive, ever-more persuasive ads, pollutes the infosphere? What good is production that consumes the natural world? What good are banks that catastrophically deplete the financial sphere? What good is a food industry that sparks an epidemic of obesity? What good is an apparel industry that produces insipid clothes in joyless, dreary working conditions? What good are athletic shoes that don’t make people fitter?”

These are special words. They weren’t spoken by a warrior wielding the buzzwords ‘Eco’ or ‘Green’, they weren’t (in this instance) written by authors like Naomi Klein, nor were they written by the head of some Corporate Social Responsibility council. In this instance they are extremely important, in print on page 193 of his latest book ‘The New Capitalist Manifesto‘, they were written by Umair Haque (Director of Havas Media Lab and Economist Blogger for the Harvard Business Review).

In the penultimate page of his book Umair writes: “my goal hasn’t been to write the new economic blueprint – but to give you pen, paper and maybe even a handful of design elements, for writing your own…” “…the future of capitalism begins, in other words, with you. So don’t just read this book. Use it. Its not a textbook, its a handbook. The protectors of the past never create the future. And the creators of the future never stop questioning the past. You’ve got to ask – and keep asking!”

Today, inspired my Umair (and the authors and great thinkers listed above, plus a few others) I choose to take my insights and learnings, and present to you my ever-developing philosophy towards the future – a twenty-first-century enterprise and economy – an inter-dependent ecology; upon the new rules within Digital Landscapes, Social Ethonomics and Twenty-First-Century Economics.

I encourage you to help me (us) re-conceptualise and re-define the words: Economic, Prosperity, Growth, Responsibility, Ethics, Value, and Worth, to develop a set of first principles of value creation, into a concise philosophy – with a clear intent and purpose!


The diagram below forms the basis of a presentation I made to Media Tree UK (and their supporting Economic Development partners) on 17/01/2011 in relation to ‘The Future of Kent’s Creative Business Economy‘.

Digital World Stuff: Thinking Aloud over Time

DigitalWorldStuff

I’ve just found this and thought I’d share it with anyone who might be interested, it is an extract from an essay I wrote many years ago – it’s a bit of a philosophical ramble but there’s some statements in it which I can’t help but relate to my current frustrations with the UK Digital Economy Bill

[…] I have come to realize that for me, there is more to life than sitting in front of a computer creating stuff that only exists in a virtual sense. I do not want to create stuff that doesn’t have physical shape or exist beyond the structured world of code and convention.

This trail of thought has led me to question the values I apply to the “Digital-World”, to my degree and to my life as a whole; I have begun to question the values I apply to the world around me and my understanding of the conventions that give value to my life, the decisions I make and the things I spend my time doing.

I began to read books on Philosophy and Sociology; combined with my dissertation studies of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability I have become interested in the areas of Materialism, Conventionalism and Consumerism. This led me to question the very definitions of value, form and existence. I drew inspiration from contemporary artists whose works were based around the same themes and began to investigate how value is determined, through its relationships with form, function, essentialness and the hierarchy of needs.

Upon trying to gain a philosophical understanding of Value I found the work of Alan Sidelle, within Sidelle’s writings on Conventionalism he states that all that there is in the world, independently of us, is “Stuff” (or as a commentary on Sidelle’s work calls it, “World-Stuff”).

The way we understand the world around us is based upon what we have been told or experienced – Consumerism, Technology, Advertising, Mass Culture and Brand Ideology give meaning, understanding, essentialness and value to our lives and the world around us – without these manufactured conventions of our consumerist society much of the world around us would have no meaning – it would have no linguistic construction, no understanding, no value – the existence of “World-Stuff” is relative to the manufactured conventions of our consumerist society.

So it is in a sense true that we (by our conventions) construct and shape the existence of the world’s objects. This is of course “construction” in a transposed sense. It does not require the use of hammers and saws, and we do not do it in the sweat of our brows. We do it merely by thinking and talking as we do. [2]

I began to draw comparisons between the “Digital-World” and the “Real-World”. I began to question the existence of “Digital-World-Stuff”; in order for something to exist, convention tells us it needs physical form, value and understanding, yet philosophy tells us we construct the existence of world-objects merely by thinking and talking as we do, understanding and linguistic construction determine value, Logic and Math tell us that if something has value it must exist. I believe this to be an interesting line of inquiry, especially when looking at “Digital-World-Stuff”, surely the existence of “Digital-World-Stuff” is relative to the manufactured conventions of our consumerist society, therefore “Digital-World-Stuff” must exist, but in what form?

I read a book entitled “One-Dimensional Man” written by Herbert Marcuse – within his text Marcuse refers to technology and consumerism as one-dimensional, helping to create a one-dimensional society.

“Marcuse was one of the first critical theorists to analyze the consumer society through analyzing how consumerism, advertising, mass culture and ideology integrate individuals into and stabilize the system. He suggests that the emergence of computerization, the proliferation of media and information, and the development of new conventions allow social control; bringing about the surrender of individual thought, hope, and fear to the decisions of the powers that be; the preservation of misery in the face of unprecedented wealth constitute the most impartial indictment… [Society’s] sweeping rationality, which propels efficiency and growth is itself irrational. He also critically analyzes new forms of technology and technological rational which are producing a qualitatively different social structure, a totally administered society”. [3] […]

Here’s the project work – make sure you zoom in and out!

Today this video has greater meaning to me:

Bibliography / References:
[1]  Crawford, E. Real Natures & Familiar Objects (Conventionalism) pg. 10
[2 & 3]  pg. 11
Mit Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2004.

Brand Philosophy : is Nokia a Starfish or a Spider?

Drafted 18/09/09 – Published 24/09/09.
The thoughts/viewpoints expressed are my own.

IF YOU CUT OFF A SPIDERS HEAD, it dies; but if you cut off a starfish’s leg, it grows a new one, and that leg can grow an entirely new starfish.

Quote from Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom.
Authors of ‘The Starfish and The Spider’.


As some of you may know I was recently invited to Budapest to take part in filming and social media production for the new Nokia Nseries Campaign (currently code-named #budaviral it is perhaps a little presumptuous on behalf of the marketing department) but the invitation to join a select team of mobile geeks and bloggers was an awesome opportunity and too good to turn down.


When I boarded my flight to Hungary I was carrying with me a book entitled ‘The Starfish and The Spider’. I was also very aware that my iPhone was my primary mobile handset – so why had Nokia invited me? and what were they expecting from me?

Budapest

Photo: Budapest
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Me

FellowCreative Sustainability
Before I continue, and for those that may question the sustainability of such a trip (900 mile flight each way) I would like to point out that my focus in this instance was positive ‘social impact’ over ‘environmental change’ (although EasyJet do have a CSR Policy I have to admit I’m not an enthusiastic fan of corporate carbon offsetting, but I was pleased to see only one empty seat on-board my return flight, in comparison to the twenty or so available on my outbound journey).

I firmly believe that social media tools and technologies have the ability to connect, unite, empower and educate communities towards positive change (both social and environmental) – as Nokia themselves are demonstrating with their Responsiveness Campaign (exploring the positive impacts of responsive conversation) supported by TED Fellow Kyra Gaunt.
I myself spend most of my days joining dots between technologies and ideas to empower positive impact – hence SustainableWidget and my client list focused on training & development, education and entrepreneurship, and socially and environmentally positive enterprise.


However, getting back to the Starfish…


Nokia’s invitation in this case had me both intrigued and a little nervous for different reasons… given my design background I’ve been an Apple user (some might say fanboy) for thirteen years and a business contract iPhone user since August 2007. However, I personally think the iPhone camera sucks and I find Apple’s ‘corporate non-transparent ways’ and ‘sometimes suspicious governance’ of its App Store ‘specifically for video-streaming services’ extremely frustrating (and some might say non existent).

With this in mind and given the fact my Digital SLR just isn’t portable 24/7, I do tend to carry a Nokia N96 mobile in my bag, from which I sparingly record video footage, live-stream via Qik.com and take photographs of useful quality (5 mega pixels).

Over recent months I’ve also been carrying an Nokia N97 which is equipped with a slightly better camera lens (Carl Zeiss Tessar 2.8/5.4) and comes pre-installed with Qik.com live-streaming; but if I’m honest I do leave the real social media content creation and mobile geekness to entertaining and talented folk like Christian Payne and James Whatley (I’m more interested in how all this shiny stuff can be used at a global/regional/social/academic/community level to bring people and ideas together for positive change).

I prefer bottom-up, multi-channel ‘community focused’ mindsets (some might say web 2.0 principles) as opposed to those of one-way corporate governance and dictatorship – I choose Starfish over Spiders.

The Starfish and The Spider
With this said, and given my recent experiences of Nokia, I’d like to voice my viewpoint to anyone who’s interested:

Apple design and manufacture solid consumer electronics that deliver intuitive usability to a mass and global market. Apple are undoubtedly best-known for their hardware products (including the Apple Mac, iPod and iPhone) but in my personal opinion the most impressive part about their diverse and ground breaking product range is often overlooked (especially by the mass market).

The combination of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system and iTunes media platform delivers an unparalleled and unrivaled user experience! Lets face it, the reason most people overlook beautiful simplicity is because its so simple they don’t need to (or even require time to) stop and think about it. I only wish Apple made ‘touch-tone call-center systems’ – the world would be a better place and I might actually be able to talk to my bank manager!

Apple’s product quality, intuitive user experience and developer community have made them a world leader. The App Store topped 1.5 Billion Downloads in its first year and with less than 3 years in the mobile industry its supposedly on target to be market leader by 2013.

But remember I personally think the iPhone camera sucks and I find Apple’s ‘corporate non-transparent ways’ and ‘sometimes suspicious governance’ of its App Store ‘specifically for video-streaming services’ extremely frustrating. And more importantly still, I know I’m not alone.

I might be an early adopter in the technology space but I’m confident that those who frequent my circle will agree that being able to upload a video to YouTube is not enough (especially when its sprinkled with targeted advertising later), and its certainly not enough when so much more is easily possible (I’m reluctant to believe its a matter of cost).

It may surprise some of you to hear me say, others will have heard me openly say it already, but compared to the iPhone I actually prefer the look and tactility of the Nokia N97, and I’d even go so far as to say the build quality is better – if only it had an intuitive OS interface and keyboard (?)

It is with the above ‘open mindset’ that I landed in Budapest…

A nagging voice in my head kept telling me that Nokia wouldn’t be able to live up to my Apple expectations. What I found made me re-evaluate.

I found Nokia’s team to be extremely ‘community and socially minded’ in there approach and very open in conversation; not just excited about their products but more interested in what I and those around me thought we could (or wanted to) do with them. They appear to understand why I carry multiple devices and they didn’t appear at all threatened by the presence of a competitors product or a non Ovi Store App (I fail to name another brand that would be so open to this situation – perhaps Google?). Nokia appeared to understand why I prefer the App Store to Nokia Ovi, and they appeared to recognize iPhone OS is more intuitive than Nokia’s current Sybian OS.

The independent bloggers I met all shared their own stories about how the Nokia Marketing Team had actively promoted blog posts that highlighted ‘traditionally negative’ product flaws and drawbacks. Nokia seem to understand that ‘learning through doing is key’ and providing an open platform for constructive criticism and negative consumer feedback is a strength not a weakness in today’s connected ‘bottom-up’ world. Inviting bloggers and Nokia fanboys to see the latest toys is one thing but to boldly invite an opinionated Mac Addict along shows confidence in product.

Nokia N00 (N900)

Photo: My hands on an Nokia N900 Prototype
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Me

The very fact that Nokia are developing innovative multi-channel Social-Media tools like Noise Cancellation Headsets and products like the Booklet 3G’s makes me feel they understand a growing audience and mindset; and better still I think they understand their competitor marketplace (especially with Google and HTC now on the playing field). The N97 and specifically the N900 demonstrate to me that Nokia understand that one button clad product doesn’t fit all but making an adaptable touchscreen interface can help. Sure their current standing is in mobile (especially in developing markets) but I’m encouraged by the fact its building upon its impressive audio and camera know-how to develop new legs in other markets like Netbook’s and VOIP.

I left Budapest impressed with a Starfish, and I keep my fingers crossed that Nokia sort out their OS Interface before a competitor releases a decent quality camera and signs-off on a live-streaming App. The fact that they are working in developing markets gives me confidence that not only will a more intuitive and useful user experience emerge on a Nokia device but its sense of social media and global connectivity/transparency will grow.

Nokia, if you are listening, thank you for making me welcome =)
I’ll leave you with three thoughts, imagine what you could do away from Ovi…

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To read more content from our Budapest adventures here are some relevant links:

#BudaViral: Social Media Adventures in Budapest with Nokia
Nokia Nseries Campaign: A Storyboard of Secrets from Budapest #BudaViral

My Review: Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-905 (Probably the ideal freelancer/co-working headset?

My Review: Nokia Booklet 3G
Ben’s Review: TheReallyMobileProject.com – Nokia Booklet 3G
Stefanos’ Review (in Greek): Pestaola.gr – Nokia Booklet 3G

N97 mini and N900 stuff can be found here: http://thereallymobileproject.com