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The Entrepreneurial Free Agent and Dejobbed Small Business R&D Lab
Rants and Raves #05
The nanocorp...
StarChild of the Small Business Revolution
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Table of Contents

  1. Summer viewing... with a nanocorp POV
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Nanocorp as Star Child...
  3. Tron - The first role-based executable business model movie
  4. Loose bits - RnR Interactive and partnering news

Welcome back, reader. It has been 7,423,527 clicks since the last assault on your senses by the pathetic users who claim authorship of this drivel they call a newsletter.

As Master Control Program, I regret to announce that anyone who subscribed to the Rants and Raves newsletter between the period of Tuesday, July 27th, through Thursday, July 29th, has not been added to my Master Control Mailing List. It seems a pitiful human played a key, but fallible, role in our list processing system.

If you, or anyone you know, subscribed during this ill-fated time period, please subscribe again.

And don't worry about this happening a second time. I am 2,147 times smarter than I was last week and the user responsible for this error has been transported to the Game Grid.

MCP regrets the inconvenience.

End of line.

Summer viewing... with a nanocorp POV

Vacations have a way of whacking us upside the head, reminding us that there is more to Life than the Daily Grind. This issue of Rants and Raves features our recommendation for two movies that make great late-night, vacation-time viewing.

Each movie has a nanocorp tie-in. (Nanocorp? Take a quick dive into the first issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves.)

Both films are available at the Sohodojo RIBS Joint - our Really Important Books and Stuff store. This is our way of kicking off the '...and Stuff' part of the store.

If you don't have these classics in your video library, drop by Sohodojo's RIBS Joint for the best mind-food in town. And remember, every purchase you make through our Amazon affiliate program helps the dojo build the home of the nanocorp community.

2001: A Space Odyssey - Nanocorp as Star Child...

Issue #4 of this newsletter featured an article on ClickSpread Analysis of the JFS Consulting nanocorp. This simple technique is used to assess business strategy and marketing messages in light of Faith Popcorn's seventeen trends driving consumer behavior.

In true guerilla marketing fashion, we used this blatant homage as a means of introducing Ms. Popcorn to the 'click' of Sohodojo.

We've also been thinking a lot lately about the Microbusiness Movement and its relationship to the nanocorp. So, we included the following as part of our Elevator Pitch to Ms. Popcorn:

"We're not your Mom and Pop's Mom and Pop Shop. A nanocorp is to conventional small business what the Star Child was to Keir Dullea in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We don't own the wave, we ride it."

We're still waiting on Ms. Popcorn's response. In the meantime, here's what we were thinking when we pitched her...

Microbusiness and nanocorps

In 1994 the Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) coined the term "microbusiness" in his State Of Small Business address to the President. He suggested that the term fits a unique segment of businesses.

With sales less than $3.5 million and fewer than five employees, these businesses are founded by owners who have been down-sized from corporations, have minimal small business experience, have sought ownership out of financial desperation or simply have pursued their Dream. Many microbusinesses are home-based, most have limited resources.

The SBA Director reminded us that microbusinesses constitute nearly 100% of net additional jobs since 1980. They have significantly impacted the Gross National Product and have given new hope to men and women alike. (Source: Microbusiness Institute at Utah State University)

When the SBA Director speaks, folks listen -- usually because funding follows. Even a cursory search of the web turns up hundreds of microbusiness-related sites.

The many faces of microbusiness and microenterprise...

A search of microbusiness websites reflects the diversity of interpretation and sponsorship objectives of those who answered the U.S. SBA Director's call to awareness. There are the private sector business services sites. And both public and private sector educational institution sites have offerings tailored to the small business entrepreneur.

Particularly interesting is the range of grassroots support sites for microbusiness as a community-based economic development program and as stimulus for the development of woman-owned business. Most of these sites are supported through SBA microbusiness funding at the state and local co-sponsor level.

The diversity of web resources which target microbusiness expands considerably when you include the terms microenterprise and micro-credit to your site search. These terms are most often found in international economic development contexts. However the success of international programs has spawned grassroots efforts to apply micro-credit and micro-loan programs to job retraining and community development in state and regional U.S. economic communities.

It is not our intent to survey and recommend microbusiness and microenterprise web resources here. You can see what's going on for yourself using your favorite search engine.

Small Business and the New Millennium

Our intent here is to place the nanocorp in the larger context of the microbusiness and microenterprise movements. Certainly there are areas of overlap and similarity of interests. But at the heart of each model, there are fundamental differences.

Nanocorps are microbusinesses. But not all microbusinesses are nanocorps.

This is not a matter of better or worse, right or wrong. The simple fact is that most microbusiness offerings are built on an implicit assumption of specialization, that is, conventional business writ smaller and smaller. The problem is that specialization is a notoriously vulnerable strategy during times of upheaval and transition -- times like now.

What's missing in the microbusiness perspective is the realization that the Internet economy and its supporting technologies are changing the very nature of work, communication and collaboration. And that's where the 2001: A Space Odyssey allusion comes into the Popcorn pitch.

The nanocorp as Star Child...

 2001: A Space Odyssey

At its 1968 star-studded Pantages Theater premiere in Hollywood, 2001: A Space Odyssey was the victim of a number of high-profile walk-outs. Stars of Hollywood past wondered aloud what the heck this movie was about. So little dialog, so much time to think. So, unHollywood.

It's when the story takes us outside the orbit of Jupiter, where astronaut David Bowman (Keir Dullea) confronts his humanity and emerges as the Star Child, that our thoughts are stretched to their limits.

No matter what personal spin you put onto it, it is clear that Kubrick's film presents a vision of the much-talked-about paradigm shift, when Order collapses and New Order rises from the Chaos of the Shift.

That's what the nanocorp is about. We are the logical result of business process reengineering streamlining strategies. Eliminate the employee-employer relationship. All work is business-to-business.

Ad hoc, project-based collaboration weaves the fabric of daily worklife. Worker as free agent, optimizing his or her own Quality of Life through a diversification of activities. A Free Market of Needs and Offers. The nanocorper moves fluidly from one side of the Movable Value Exchange Feast to the other.

The nanocorp perspective reflects a new relationship to work. A nanocorper, whether downsized-out or escapee, sells his or her specialized skills and experience back into the domain he or she left.

Using 'seed' money from contract work, the nanocorper launches and nurtures a collection of subsidiary businesses. No one of these businesses has to be a killer, each adds its measure to overall nanocorp success.

The nanocorper's subsidiary businesses will change over time. Personal choices, new opportunities and shifting market interests will drive the start-ups and stops.

As each subsidiary business grows and generates income, the nanocorper spends more time working his or her subsidiary businesses and less time on 'work for hire' contract projects.

Strategic partnering and collaborative relationships provide opportunities to develop resources for sustainable nanocorp success. In return, the nanocorp offers partners strategic insights, new markets and expanded opportunities.

Holding court over a handful of businesses, nimbly responding to developing opportunities, collaboration on joint interests and cooperative ventures -- we are the homesteaders of the new Internet economy.

Pioneers are generalists, not specialists. Survival on the frontier is all about dynamic adaptation to the moment. The support of supply lines and communication is vital. But the resources and messages have to be relevant to our new experience.

Nanocorpers down to Earth...

We, the nanocorpers, are truly the Star Children in the expanding galaxy of Small Businesses. We've been to the edge of the Internet orbit and been transformed. We have a vision for integrating Life and Work, for taking personal responsibility for our health and happiness while contributing responsibly to our local and global economies.

Sure, we need all the conventional and microbusiness resources you can make available. But we need more. We need to be understood. Understanding leads to acceptance. And acceptance leads to increasing opportunity and long-term sustainability.

How do our systems handle the nanocorper now? Not very well. Bias against the nanocorp business model is reflected from smallest things, like the forms we fill in to apply for business and financial services, to the expectations of strategic partners...

Q: Name of business?
A: Which one?

Q: How long have you been in business?
A: This business, or its parent company?

Q: Annual revenue?
A: Consolidated or subsidiary-specific?

I'm sorry, you just don't fit our pigeon-holes. Come back (choose one depending on context):

  • when you have spent every penny of your retirement savings, then you might be poor enough to interest us, or

  • when your plans for growth are big enough to interest us.

End of interview.

Government services, bankers, venture capitalists, conventional businesses... all product and service providers need to ask themselves the same two fundamental questions:

  • Are we prepared to deal with the nanocorp workforce of the New Millennium?

  • Will we ride the wave of the New Business Order with the nanocorpers, or serve as submerged obstacles which shape the wave but are not part of it?

The growing Sohodojo community is all about shaping and participating in this New Business Order, the global Internet-based economy. We need lots of eyes, ears and voices in this community as we work together to shape a new approach to Life and Work.

Many issues will need to be re-thought in light of a nanocorp model and our place in this new economy. Bankers, venture capitalists, lawyers, accountants, strategic partners -- all of us need to reconsider how we operate in light of this new reality.

What do you think? Talk back or find out more here.

Tron - The first role-based executable business model movie

 Tron DVD

The DVD release of Disney's Tron in its theatrical wide-screen format with Dolby Digital soundtrack is reason enough to grab a copy and enjoy this landmark film. With its still-credible computer-generated special effects, this 1982 sci-fi action film works at many levels.

The level that most turns us on, and what puts it on our personal favorites list, is how Tron speaks to the relationship between human and computer. As sure as a Jack London story evokes exploration of Man and Beast in the Wilderness, Tron explores our relationship with our first non-organic general-purpose beast of burden.

 Mirror Worlds bookcover

Particularly interesting to us is Tron's anthropomorphic sentient computer programs, its agents, working on behalf of their users: a World Within reflecting a World Without. Tron is Gelertner's Mirror Worlds brought to life by a talented team of Disney animators and computer graphic artists.

The Real Ghost in the Machine...

The terminology applied is a bit loose, but we're talking a mainstream movie in 1982, here. That it so eloquently portrays the spirit of software architects and system designers who pursue the development of role-based executable business model (EBM) technologies is icing on an already enjoyable cake.

"Tron's" dated notion of anthropomorphic sentient computer programs foreshadows the use of object technology to create dynamic systems in which software objects, not whole programs, directly model the user's participation in a system. In EBM terms, we have Person objects which maintain collections of Role objects, each Role maintaining the collection of Activity objects, etc.

Role-based executable business modeling frameworks let us build software solutions which mirror our mental models of the Real World. Applications, as we know them, disappear in a role-based EBM work environment.

Smart desktop frameworks dynamically generate task-appropriate user interfaces based on the underlying executing model. The user's software analogs of him or herself are persisting there in the executing business model as compositions of software objects, today's realization of "Tron's" programs-as-people allegory.

So grab a copy, crank up the volume and turn down the lights. Enjoy, Tron. And don't forget to remind yourself that this is a Disney movie from seventeen years ago!

Then, with its visions fresh in your memory, drop by the Sohodojo Forums where we maintain a number of discussion groups considering the issues and opportunities for the development and use of role-based executable business model technologies. ZOPE, Netmosphere, Koeslon BusinessThreads... if it's role-based EBM, it's fair game at the Sohodojo Forums.

And if you really want a double-whammy, toss a copy of Gelernter's Mirror Worlds into your Amazon shopping cart along with Tron. Remember, Theodore Kaczynski, convicted Unabomber, was willing to kill to keep Gelernter from writing another book as good and important as "Mirror Worlds".

Your thoughts on Tron and/or role-based executable business models are always welcome at Sohodojo. Talk back or find out more here.

Loose bits - RnR Interactive and partnering news

Tron is a programmer's movie. Software-chic, it succeeded as sheer entertainment for the non-technical, and as a gag-fest of thoughtful insider jokes to those familiar with the domain of software design and development.

One of the truly coolest elements of the film is its implementation of the classic Shakespearean 'comic relief' character. Director/screenwriter Steven Lisberger has rendered the most parsimonious comic character in film history.

The character, Bit, is a computer-generated, free-floating geometric form. The entire range of its dialog: "Yes." and "No." Vaudevillian-style humor is squeezed from Bit's banter with the Hero, Flynn. Their conversations are reminiscent of those leading-question type interactions you had with your Magic Eight-ball toy, if you were around for that slice of pop culture history.

In honor of Bit, we have rounded up a couple of our own loose bits to keep you current on developments at the dojo...

RnR Interactive

It's a modest start, we'll admit. You may have noticed the exit line, "Talk back or find out more here..." with a URL to the Sohodojo forums. It's our way of drawing you into the conversation.

The Rants and Raves newsletter is Sohodojo's outreach program. Our growing community has its voice in the open forums.

Right now it seems mostly like a lot of Jim and Timlynn howling at the moon. But we're in growing and good company. If you read our newsletter, we want to hear your opinions.

To make it easy to dip your toe into our on-line discussions, we've created a Rants and Raves issue-specific discussion group. If something we say gets you thinking and you want to share it with us, you're a click away from interaction.

You don't have to create a user profile to contribute to the issue-specific discussion. So drop by, and give us a piece of your mind. Or just stop by to find out more. You are always welcome at the dojo.

Partnering progress

We mentioned our special interest in executable business model technology in the Tron piece above. If you dig around Sohodojo's EBM discussion groups, you'll see that we have identified ZOPE, the Open Source, Python-based application server as an ideal platform for the development of role-based executable business model frameworks.

ZOPE is the spawn of a talented bunch of object technologists and Python wizards at Virginia-based Digital Creations . We are pleased to report steady progress in the development of strategic partnering relations with Digital Creations. We share an active interest in developing mainstream, turn-key ZOPE server hosting providers for this exciting technology. Look for exciting news along this front soon.

Over the weekend we did a Netmosphere upgrade to the Enterprise edition of ActionPlan and Project Home Page. The upgrade went smoothly and it worked out for the best. The Netmosphere Collaboration Server, an Open Source LDAP directory server, a TeamWARE Dolphin server (more on this one soon) and our Apache intranet HTTP server are now running on an NT Workstation node of our intranet.

The upgrade to the Enterprise edition reflects Netmosphere's recent consolidation of product offerings. Although not confirmed by press time, price points and market focus appear to remain the same. Apparently Netmosphere wants to simplify its development and support efforts around a common platform.

We're now running a enterprise-scale collaborative project management environment, complete with LDAP directory service, on our two-person nanocorp intranet. It's great to feel like we aren't heading into battle with a peashooter!

The Netmosphere folks continue to be very supportive of our efforts to address the 'Few Heads - Many Hats' time and resource nanocorp management dilemma. We're setting up a Netmosphere-specific forum which will be co-moderated by Robin of Netmosphere Tech Support. Robin has been extremely helpful in kicking off this collaboration. We truly appreciate the genuine interest and support of Netmosphere.

As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
    --Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
    Hosts, Sohodojo

About the Sohodojo Rants and Raves newsletter

We'd like to keep sending you our weekly newsletter. By making it weekly, we guarantee it will be short. Okay, occasionally, when we get on a good rant we might drag on a bit, but we'll try not to do that too often.

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