Posts tagged ‘values’

Hierarchy of Value: Empowering the Many

by Mark Cobbold

Is there a hierarchy of value linked to human needs and motivations?
Can there be trade between levels in such a hierarchy?
Could such trade be globally interoperable, but based on “local” micro-economies?

Abraham Maslow published his Hierarchy of Needs within Motivation and Personality (1954), and it is an interesting exercise to revisit it within the context of value based systems.

Personal and group motivations are linked to value. The most basic of needs and motivations have, consciously or subconsciously the greatest value, and when these needs become threatened or unattainable it may well become the preoccupation of the individual or group to satisfy them, and prioritize them over higher needs in the hierarchy.

I am interested in what collaborative value based systems would look like for each level of needs and motivations – and whether these would originate from, and be propagated by different individuals/social groups/countries and ethnicities.

Does the base-line of value get re-drawn in times of economic or social success? When lower values become taken for granted are they devalued, or just temporarily forgotten – suddenly becoming a preoccupation once again when times change for the worse – and houses start getting repossessed.

Humans have been motivated by the same needs for thousands of years, flexibly using the technologies of the day – stone, bronze, silicon - to satisfy those needs. Looking at the great consumer success stories of Web 2.0, they seem to be demonstrations of higher motivations like relationships, status and reputation.

We seem to have developed stand alone value systems at each level - decoupling each level and ourselves from the lower motivations. Our utilities, energy, property, farming, supermarkets etc have become ever more distant, standardized and monopolistic. Private entrepreneurs or incorporated entities have set the economic agenda. We have inadvertently put our most basic of needs at risk – exposed to the vagaries of profiteering and boom/bust instability.

achievement, status, responsibility, reputation

This feels like the beginnings of a manifesto, for modern-day cooperatives – concerned with human motivations and explicitly reconnecting us with value. Trade and growth could be defined in terms of human value, not geographies or politics. A structure of globally connected micro-economies would mean individuals could collectively organize, and collectively represent themselves like no other time in history.

Surely then, we would have greater economic diversity and stability with which to grow and realize the potential of both ourselves, and others.

1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.

3. Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.

4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

5. Self-Actualization needs - realising personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.


KashKlash, my thoughts

by Michele Visciola

Michele Visciola is a partner of Experientia, but is contributing these ideas as his personal contribution to the project.

I have some thoughts that I want to share with you after having read yours:

I believe that we will never get rid of money. Be realistic! Forget about virtual currency. We will keep living in the physical world in 2015. So let’s be real. A world with no currency would simply mean that we are regressing to a post-future era. A world without a reliable currency would mean the end of the history for all humanity. That has already been forecast several times; however, luckily enough, we are still debating about the future and I hope that in 2015 we will still be here armed with the willingness and desire to understand how to best deal with current challenges. Further, I also believe that we can easily imagine a world with one unique currency valid for everybody; but that would also imply an unrealistic scenario: a world where differences (such as origin, genre, class, education) have disappeared for ever and people can – e.g. - have the same opportunities everywhere, regardless of local economies. I am not a pessimistic guy, however I feel that achievements like this are out of reach for the next several decades.

I also believe that the main challenges we have to deal with today are dependent on two main tenets which are deep-rooted in our culture: first of all, our faith in limitless growth and, second, the regulations that allow the accumulation of unlimited resources in the hands of few, with no care for our general wellbeing. In western-like economies, we generally consume resources up to 9 times our capability to produce goods and new resources within the same timeframe. In fact, we consume vast amounts of energy to produce our goods and we throw things away even before the end of the normal life cycle they were designed for. We look at the future with no parsimony. We envisage an expanded future. We imagine our future to always contain more and more. To make that possible the legislators need to deregulate access to resources, and often completely obscure any reference to reality and to the wisdom of the past.

[This graphic is built through service and property of IBM.]

I very much like the idea that we as individuals act under the pressure of three kinds of forces: the social, the political and the financial. However, we need to be aware that at this precise moment the social and political forces are subordinate to financial power and its forces. I believe that this is mainly because financial power has been able to embody and enact the 2 tenets I was referring to above. It has done so with perseverance and persistency. Financial power has shown no limit in its fantasy and has been able to literally invent unlimited wealth, even if only virtual. These virtual riches are in the hands of few, their creators, and can literally destroy any social or political resistance to counteract or simply control them. What is worse, they can completely obfuscate any reference to the production of goods and services and further put at risk the reality of many innocent savers and other citizens.

We do not suffer a clash of currencies; indeed we are suffering a clash of risk cultures (Ulrich Beck – Conditio Humana). The creators of virtual wealth do not have the same risk culture that is at the basis of individual behavior. In fact, we as individuals are limited; our rationality is bounded, our actions are contextual and therefore restricted by the boundaries of the social and physical contexts. We make our decisions trying to reduce the amount of possible bad consequences. We do not behave to maximize our potential gains. Our behavior is fit only when it shows a clear understanding of the constraints of the situations we live in. We are normally able to assess the possible outcomes of our decisions and also determine to what extent we want to act riskily. In a virtual financial world there are no more physical (goods), nor social (rules) constraints. As a consequence, the related culture of risk will easily consider any perceived limitation as a barrier to the immediate profit of the few manipulators of huge flows of virtual cash.

So let me jump to the conclusions of my few observations: I feel that there is an urgency to reduce the power of financial forces. Will that be possible by making the manipulation of values through digital currencies more transparent? For instance, is there any opportunity to reduce the mediator role of financial institutions? How can digital currency improve the perception of artificial richness and make it vanish as soon as one institution or few individuals accumulate more than is physically conceivable?

I also believe that we need to put our faith in the limitless growth of our resources and values under serious scrutiny. How might digital currency limit the greed of the homo economicus? Is there something that we can imagine as a future scenario in which social pressure and forces get financial power into the right perspective? How can the creation of commons incrementally expand the number of people who can have access to produced values? What are the new services that might consistently increase our capability to improve our wealth without destroying values?

Some questions

by Nicolas Nova

One of the most important point in the picture I sketched in my other post is the cultural and geographical fragmentation of communities. Based mostly on ethnic and religious segmentation, this phenomena will be an acute driver of change. Why is that? simply because people from the same culture will be scattered in different countries, cities and continent; because these cultures will have trouble cohabiting with each others in the local; because these diaspora will stay connected all around the world, etc. What this means practically is that “friction and connection” are definitely interesting keywords to describe the near future (2015 is the near future right?). Frictions between different cultures who may fight against each others on one hand, and connections between people within the same diaspora (but geographically dispersed) or between cultures who may learn from each other.

Frictions and connections actually set up the scene for imagining issues regarding value exchange as they show the underlying factors that can explain the near future. The tension between the local and the global is also an interesting couple of factor.

[This graphics is built through service and property of IBM.]

A list of questions I am thinking about sitting at the airport in Geneva:

Will these communities stop using regular currency such as dollar-euro-yen-yuan-… and use their own currency?

Will Hawala spread out of the islamic world to other communities? Which, back tot he factors I delineated above corresponds to ask whether the local connections between different in big cities communities may lead to the spread of a value system from one culture to another. Will technology-based currencies (M-Pesa) spread from developing countries to the developed world?

Will there be a growing bartering/micro-tasks platforms (such as the one I described in my post last week)?  Who will it serve? Will it be limited to specific communities? Will it be limited to techno-geeks?

Will be bartering be limited to obscure communities? Will current currencies be only used by the developed world? Or will the situation be more complicated with currencies to support legal transactions and bartering to support non-legal ones?

Which forms bartering systems can take? Will mobile and location-based applications will enable bartering process? Is this view too technology-centric and eventually only local population would manage to barter services and goods?

What would be the consequence of having more and more bartering systems? How would States react?

What about the inter-relationships between the digital and the physical? Would I be able to trade my google history against a free access to the local foodstore (which would actually correspond to a huge hydroponic plant connected to a server farm that provide enough energy to grow apples and cherries in winter?)

If my on-line material (history of interaction uploaded pictures, mass amount of emails, google docs and communications such as tweets and blogposts) is intrinsically valued, the ones who host them act like a bank. Who’s going to be such “bank”: mobile phone carriers? search engines? internet providers? internet hosts? what sorts of other services will they eventually propose?

Will there be some “esperanto“-like transaction system? a group of people/country/institutions tired with the tyranny of the euro-dollar which will propose its own attempt to replace them by a more valuable and user-centric money? Possibly by developing countries who both manage to have enough economical resources and intellectual workers to set this up around 2010 after the big subprime crisis? I find this scenario intriguing and may expand it a bit later on, especially because esperanto is close to “desperanto” (desperate) and I can quickly imagine the failure of the high expectations people would put in an esperanto-like transaction system.

The last recession brought us punk. As much as I like The Clash, I hope this one will be kinder to music

by Régine Debatty

by Régine Debatty

cd cover
It is particularly challenging to be asked to reflect on the future of currency and economy in a time when credit crunch is expected to bloom into a full-scale recession. The financial crisis is going to have many consequences I’d rather not think about right now. But from what I can observe, the alarming forecasts are dividing the population into two main groups. A vast majority believes that they should try and understand the difference between a credit card and a debit card, cut out the coupons that will get them a fifth sausage for the price of four at the butcher counter and brace themselves for better times to come back. Then there are the others, those who believe that the crisis is a sign that the economic models we used to thrive on are leaking from all sides and that instead of trying to patch up the haemorrhage as best as we can, we should just accept that the system is fucked up and time has come to look around us for alternatives.

The so-called ‘developing countries’ haven’t waited for the credit crunch, banking bail-out plans and other crumbling down of the markets to come up with models we might want to reflect upon.

Take Brazil, a country famed for the way most of its 180 million inhabitants thrive on music. Yet, last year Sony/BMG released only a dozen new compact discs, a ridiculous number for such a succulent market.  So where has the Brazilian music gone?

The answer is easy and almost obvious: the music scene is out there in the street, outside the distribution systems sternly controlled by the major labels. Its most celebrated offspring is the tecnobrega a style of music born in Belém a city of 1,500,000 inhabitants located in the northern part of the country. The name comes from the ’80s techno music beats and from ‘brega’, which could be translated as ‘kitsch’ and ‘cheesy.’ Tecnobrega churns out about 400 new CDs and 100 new DVDs every year. None of them can be bought in stores.

Let’s leave aside the music itself and explore the business model that underpins it. The adventure typically starts in the studio of the music producer. The studio is often a small room with a computer and a few affordable pieces of equipment. Musicians are invited to come in, record their tune and that’s it for now. This music is delivered to street vendors, the kind who’d sell a pirated copy of a Hollywood blockbuster for a few dollars. They are in charge of replicating the CD and selling them to passersby. The vendors keep all the money for themselves.

But the street vendors have an important role: they act as promoters of the music, they advertise it, and the more CDs they sell, the more popular a tune becomes. In parallel, vans and bicycles carrying huge speakers broadcast the music as they drive through a neighbourhood.

Now the way musicians make money is by giving concerts and performances. The most popular artists attract tens of thousands of fans who not only will pay a modest fee to attend the ’soundsystem’ party, but will also want to remember the event by buying another CD of the band. It’s a different CD. This one is recorded during the show, is ‘legitimate’ and sold at the exit. To make it even more attractive, the musicians will greet the audience during their performance, shouting the name of the neighbourhoods in the area. The CD people buy at the exit has then gained some sentimental value.

Would tecnobrega musicians swap this business model for an ‘official’ one?
Not necessarily. The concerts of the most popular band in Brazil Banda Calypso attract hundreds of thousands of fans. Which of course makes them extremely appealing to the music industry. Alas for them Banda Calypso systematically refuses any offer, convinced as they are that the tecnobrega model is far more lucrative and flexible for musicians.

Further readings:

La cultura después de la piratería , by Jose Luis de Vicente.
Estrelas de Belém , by Vladimir Cunha.
Tecnobrega: A música paralela , by Hermano Vianna.
We Pledge Allegiance to the Penguin , by Julian Dibbell.
Brazil’s two music industries , by Sam Howard.

And a video: Good Copy, Bad Copy.

Kash Klash project - the vision

by Irene Cassarino

We create our future as much as our past creates us. The relatively new digital world of the internet has offered us new methods of communicating, of discovering and of interacting. We have learned that we don’t have to simply copy familiar physical forms and adapt them to this new environment, but that we can use our collective imagination to invent new forms and tools, as dynamic and holistic as we are.

Friedrich Kiesler in 1939 defined this as co-realism: ‘an exchange of interacting forces’ and situates the idea of expanding human capacities within it. Here is an opportunity to transform our recent past as consumers and producers to that of active co-creators of our collective future— to create something new with all that we have learned from farming culture, academic enlightenment, master craftsmanship and industrial efficiency and use the essential elements to light a path through our new integrated physical/digital world.

Are we prescribing or determining form and behavior? Are we making means for a specific experience, or are we creating conditions for what has been called the experimental exercise of freedom? - Mies van der Rohe

KashKlash is a space to share thoughts on, and to shape, the future; a playground for visionary people like you, who, in a sense, are already living a few years ahead. One particular aspect of the future we are particularly keen to explore is related to exchanges in our culture. Let’s start from the basic consideration that people have always shared and exchanged things. Sure, it comes to us naturally. But today’s digital communication systems are changing and expanding this age-old behaviour: not only are there new things to share — pictures, music, ratings, writings, videos, data and information — but there are now also many more platforms and opportunities for sharing and exchanging to take place.

Can we consider such exchanges to be ‘economical’? Sure we can, as in the original Greek  meaning of “one who manages a household”: although these exchanges often don’t involve money, they are rapidly growing in importance. Yet, our current capitalist economy is based on the assumption that everything has a monetary value, and ought to be traded according to that value. What is challenging our imagination is that the uptake of digital technology is starting to undermine this assumption.

Consider a person uploading a picture on Flickr, with an open license.  She is making a ‘gift’ to the Flickr community in the sense that she does not expect to have any financial compensation in return, but she does get other things instead: e.g. the feeling of belonging to a community of peers, a great potential visibility for her picture, the recognition of the beauty of it, the happiness of having her friends and relatives virtually gathered around that picture, and so on. The exchange has become non-financial and is definitely shaping a different, or if you want, alternative, ecosystem. An alternative to the mainstream.

Of course we know that alternative economies are nothing new: Local communities worldwide have always practised sharing and trading things (both material and immaterial, like time) without the support of money. Even now in 2008 this local practice is still very widely diffused, yet it sits at the margin of the dominant economic model and has a reputation of being naïve. What is new, with respect to a few years ago, is the increased interaction between digital/global and physical/local sharing through digital, especially mobile, communication tools.

Personal/Shared Values vs. Monetary Value

The current world of physical currency offers a degree of anonymity that allows individuals and groups to disassociate what they produce with what they consume. What have we lost in blurring the association between the two? Does the web, rich with connections and openness, offer an opportunity to reclaim this lost territory? What are the implications of this? Can both forms co-exist? In the merging physical/digital world, will other types of compensation - time, skills, services, a sense of belonging, visibility, public recognition, identity and so on - be increasingly important?

What might replace money as it exists now? What could be sharable and what cannot? What impact could this have on people and communities? How could a post-money economy best be organised, especially given the failures of the current economic model? How do communities of sharing shape and maintain themselves? How do they build their values? Do they have explicit or implicit values? What are the differences between global/online and local/physical communities of sharing? To what extent can digital/mobile communication tools help people in both online and physical communities manage their sharing and exchanging practices? What would the rules, rituals and habits of this future world be?

To address these questions, we created KashKlash, a forum to debate, imagine and co-create this future.
It is worth noting here that the focus of this understanding is on a possible future ecosystem, rather than on the technological tools underpinning it. We want the technology to adapt to the landscape we are trying to sketch out, not to be pulled in a certain direction by technology.

We want you to feel free to express your view, even if you feel that it is loosely related to the subject of the discussion: this platform is a simply a playground for ideas coming from people who are in love with the future and we are looking forward to seeing the amazing jigsaw puzzle of insights that results!
Please experiment with your thoughts and transfer them to us through words, images, sounds, videos, whatever medium you prefer.
We know how powerful ideas can be when a suitable space is created for a diverse community of people to express them.

KashKlash is a public domain project, set up by Heather Moore of Vodafone’s User Experience group, where all the content is public and open for all to use, allowing everyone to gain from everyone else’s contributions.
Such an open and spirited climate should not be hampered by Vodafone’s involvement, and it should be clear to everybody that opinions presented within this project are not somehow attached/attachable to Vodafone but are opinions from individuals, belonging to them and to the public domain.