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    Friday, October 24, 2008

    First session at Pop!Tech, 10.24.08

    Kushal Chakrabarti is speaking. He is the founder of the Vittana Foundation, an organization the helps high-achieving students in developing nations gain access to funds for college. He's a Pop!Tech fellow, one of a group of innovative people selected by Pop!Tech to talk about the ways in which their work helps the world - education, peace, medicine, technology, etc.

    Now, we have Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine. I love Wired. The intersection of technology, pop culture and information. Anderson sez, "Every abundance creates new scarcity," paraphrased from Herbert Simon. New scarcities - time, money, happiness ("which money can't buy"), attention and reputation. Non-monetary economics. What would that look like? Measureable, finite and convertible to other economic models. That's the internet. The great equalizer. The playing field is leveled. Google information centers. The hyperlink is the foot in the door for reputation-based economics. Reputation-based economics? The hyperlink is reputation based. You're conferring your reputation for someone else, by linking to them. It's the exchange of reputation and goodwill. It helps you and it helps someone else. Reputation economics builds link by link. Oh, the internet. I could say something about Marxism, but I shall refrain.

    PS Can I just say I hope I meet Malcolm Gladwell. Didn't get to see him yesterday. So sad. Probably my favorite working journalist at the moment. Anyway.

    Now we have Clay Shirky from Digital Freedoms. He sez, Groban, pop rock star, sweet-voiced, emotionally demonstrative and cute, his fans are teenage girls and their grandmas. He couldn't have assembled that audience without the internet on his side. Radio won't play him. Crazy fans - Gronbanites - wanted to get him a birthday present. Pooled money. $75,000 check for the David Foster Foundation. These women were onto something! Asked Josh about it. His lawyers started freaking out. No precendent for this in philanthropy. Lawyers started a 501 (c)3 to "catch the money falling from the sky." Grobanites realized they were good at raising money - didn't need the Groban-approved org. Started Grobanites for Charity. 100% of the donations go to the recipients. The entire thing! Web site looks like 1997. Done by amateurs. Not professionals - done for love. We are used to large institiutions - now we have small, amateur ones. Individual people getting together to do things. Why did the Grobanites separate themselves? Motivation; they were more motivated by doing it on their own, rather than with lawyers and professionals. Community; they all knew each other. Entering an age of digital Krishna consciousness! Ha! Napster made it easy to be generous. Shawn Fanning designed for generosity, making it easy to be generous and making the payoff higher. Our world requires us to be able to share information and ideas freely. The question is - how do you make money? Everything is free. How can our economic model survive this? Web sites are different from businesses. It's generousity. Does it even matter if we can make money off it? Business folks are shocked that people do things like make web sites to share information about cell phones, or pop star fans banding together to raise money for charity, simply because they want to. Not because they want to be rich or famous. How do you design for generosity? There is no recipe. It just happens. Create an environment in which such things flourish. Fame and love are not on the same dial. People are not an aggregated bag of individual motivations, but people with love and desire and kindness.

    Another intejection: I was 20 minutes late to this because there was a crazy roadblock in Prospect. Some guy brandished a gun at a cop in Searsport, and now there's a full blown manhunt in Waldo County. Searsport is my home town! Wow.

    OK, now we've got Matt Mason, former pirate radio DJ and thinker about our new economic and information dissemination models. He wrote "The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Reinvented Capitalism." Abundantly clear things about abundance. If you want to beat piracy, join them. Napster worked; adopt the model, rather than smash it. Record labels are finally grasping that. Pirate radio in London were totally illegal. They had millions of listeners; they were the bad guys, but they had a huge, huge audience at their disposal. Brilliant. Innovative. Popular. If you can't beat them, join them. Good business is the best art. Speaks to what Clay said; a generosity-based system works. People rebel differently - they don't start a band. If you think TV sucks, you start an alternative. Like YouTube. The art of storytelling is changing because of abundance. We communicate differently. Don't let legal ruin a remix. Abundance is better than advertising. Big pharma has a problem with abundancy - developing countries can't pay western prices for meds, so pirates make generic meds. Street pirates complain about digital pirates stealing their business. In economy based on abundance, your business model needs to be a virtuous circle.

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