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The Entrepreneurial Free Agent and Dejobbed Small Business R&D Lab
Rants and Raves newsletter #18
Nanocorps in the Story-driven Dream Society
Stories and Storytelling in Your Free Agent and Small Business Future
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Table of Contents

  1. Around the dojo...
    • TechSIG: Sohodojo Named R&D Center in Communities of the Future Network
    • LifeSIG: About Those Unwanted or Unneeded Holiday Gifts...
    • Nanocorp Reading: Holiday Books to Shake Up Your Thinking
    • LegalSIG: Enterprise Community Legislation Update
    • Webrings: Congratulations, Welcome and Comic Strip Factory Club
    • Support Sohodojo: Your Donations Help our R&D and Publishing Efforts
    • Sohodojo in the News: NFIB Activist Profile

  2. What's Your Story, Storyteller?
    • Nanocorp Primer #5: Nanocorps in the Story-driven Dream Society
    • LifeSIG Experience Reports: Tell us Your Story
    • 'Lone Wolf' Tony's "Reflections on Self-Employment"

Around the dojo...

"May you live in interesting times," is believed to invoke chaos upon whomever receives this ancient Oriental 'curse'. If you aim to preserve traditional thinking, then 'interesting times' would indeed be distressing. But as we stand in the midst of transitional New Economy chaos, we have a grand opportunity at this time and place to make the future different, better, and more sustainable for all of us and Spaceship Earth.

We hear the nay-sayers laughing as they ridicule the promise of an Internet-enabled future. Sure the ' bubble' is bursting. But the 21st Century promise has never been about just making 'easy win' millions. In this wonderful Age of Access, we ARE on a new journey and we cannot go back to how we were before. What we do now, as the failed get-rich-quick schemes tarnish the possibilities, will determine how this time and this place leaves its ripple in history.

This issue of 'Rants and Raves' encourages each of us to make the most of our moment of opportunity.

Welcome to Sohodojo,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Hosts, Sohodojo

20 December 2000
Raleigh, NC USA

TechSIG: Sohodojo Named R&D Center in Communities of the Future Network

Visit the Communities of the Future...

We are very pleased to announce that Sohodojo has been designated a 'node' in the Communities of the Future Network. The Network is a unique collection of educational institutions and think tanks working in collaboration on the Communities of the Future (COTF) mission to research, pilot and seed capacities for transformation among rural and urban communities seeking a sustainable future.

Each 'node', a Center, in the COTF Network has a unique character and charter of interest relevant to the COTF 'Big Picture' agenda. Sohodojo has joined the Communities of the Future Network as the R&D Lab focused on Open Source collaboration technologies.

The Center for Community Collaboration Technologies (CCCT) is co-hosted by Sohodojo and Communities of the Future. The CCCT mission is to develop and facilitate the application of Open Source collaboration technologies within 'Small is Good' Business Webs in urban and rural communities seeking a sustainable future. Drop by to learn more about our first Open Source projects under development. Contributors and other interested parties are welcome.

LifeSIG: About Those Unwanted or Unneeded Holiday Gifts...

From 'Your Money or Your Life' to 'Simplicity, The New Competitive Advantage...' and over at the Center for the New American Dream, the hottest advice for improving the quality of your life and work is: UNCLUTTER. Get rid of things you do not need and make your life much simpler. What do you do to get rid of your unwanted stuff?

We've been using since March to get rid of "stuff" and to help support Sohodojo. It wins with us. is THE place for selling and buying used books, CDs, videos, DVDs, and games. We've been testing out the model and customer services for 10 months. Both get really high marks from our personal experience. These folks know how to run a quality on-line service. They go out of their way with excellent customer support. Read our review for details. If you sign up after clicking in to from a Sohodojo hot link, Sohodojo earns an affiliate commission which helps support our R&D and publishing efforts.

We've gotten a number of questions about swap sites such as Switchouse, MrSwap, and WebSwap. Switchhouse and MrSwap focus on music, movies and games; Switchhousers also swap books, electronics, hardware, and software. WebSwap allows trades on everything from collectibles to antiques, books and clothing. But all sites report that true swaps, involving two-way trades, are actually rather rare on these sites.

If you have used an on-line Swap site, let us know what you think. We're looking for experience-based reviews for the LifeSIG section of our web site. Community contributors get a snazzy 'author profile side-bar' with links to your Brand You free agent or small business web site.

Nanocorp Reading: Holiday Books to Shake Up Your Thinking

As we round the corner and head into the holidays, we recommend these new RIBS to shake up your thinking.

The Age of Access

'The Age of Access' by Jeremy Rifkin
Rifkin says that the desire to "own things" is disappearing from our lives. Relationships as we have known them, with their reciprocal obligations and mutual expectations, are being replaced. Everything outside the family will become a paid-for experience! Who will control the access to 'meaningful' experience, ideas and information? Take a close look at the AOL-Time Warner merger. If Rifkin is right, we need to hunker down now and get busy on the other side of capitalism!

The Dream Society

'The Dream Society' by Rolf Jensen
Jensen points to a not-too-distant future where products and services that appeal to the heart rather than the mind will capture the greatest marketshare. Jensen is the Director of the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, one of the world's premiere futurist think tanks. If he is correct, we 'Small is Good' folks stand to gain a competitive advantage. We explore this provocative possibility in Nanocorp Primer #5: 'Nanocorps in the Dream Society: How 'Small is Good' Business Webs Will Compete in the Story-driven Marketplaces of the 21st Century'


'Simplicity' by Bill Jensen
Jensen, Bill this time, will help you figure out what to do in a complex world of too many options. Simplicity is about working smarter, not harder. It's about using common sense in making every business decision. It's about being disciplined, being clear, building trust, and using common sense. We resonate deeply with the 'Keep It Simple' mindset in everything at Sohodojo, especially our web site HTML page designs. HTML simplicity is rule one in small business web site design. 'Small is Good' and 'Simpler is Better'... these things work together to give free agents and small business folks a competitive advantage.

Making a Living While Making a Difference

'Making a Living While Making a Difference' by Melissa Everett
This is one of our favorite gift choices for graduating young folks we hope will read it. Lately, we've had occasion to give this inspirational and practical book to people our own age who are working through life changes.

Remember, our RIBS Joint is multi-vendor friendly. On each Sohodojo RIBS (Really Important Books and Stuff) page you'll find "buy" links to Amazon, Amazon-UK, Fat Brain, Books-a-million, and (Sorry, Barnes & Noble requires exclusive links! Their loss, eh? We want choice. You, too, right?) Any book you buy after clicking through a Sohodojo RIBS Joint page link helps support our R&D and publishing efforts. Thank you.

LegalSIG: Enterprise Community Legislation Update

We've been listening to hear the proverbial "fat lady sing" for the Enterprise Community Tax-cut Legislation. But Sohodojo Advisory Board member, Jim Schneider, tells us it's not over yet.

Schneider reports, "Come next year we believe that IRC Section 1397B and Section 1202 will include Enterprise Communities, retroactive to investments made from enactment date of H.R.5562. Do we have support for this statement, we believe that we have from many Senators and Representatives that we have talked to."

With a new president hell bent on making major tax cuts, who knows what will happen for the Enterprise Communities which continue to struggle with being left out of Community Renewal legislation.

You can keep up to date on the implications of proposed tax cut legislation as the new Administration puts its spin on Small Business America by subscribing to Jim Schneider's 'The Taxman86 Speaks' newsletter and by visiting 'The Taxman86 Speaks Archive' hosted by Sohodojo.

Webrings: Congratulations, Welcome and Comic Strip Factory Club

Congratulations to Small Business Revolutionary, Don 'The Idea Guy'. Don won Third Place in a contest sponsored by Sears/Kenmore and contributing a winning idea for an innovative twist to refrigerators. 'The Idea Guy' is a long-time member of the Sohodojo community and the Small Business Revolutionaries Webring.

Welcome to the newest member of the SBR Webring. Coastal Vacations is an association of entrepreneurs, professionals and home-based business owners. If you are looking for potential opportunities in the booming Travel and Leisure markets, start here and to see if this program suits you.

We use Comic Strip Factory (CSF) and its piece/parts artwork to develop the ensemble of characters populating the 'sales force' and 'back office ner-do-wells at CSF is sadly now 'antique-ware'. It is no longer commercially available and it is increasingly difficult to keep old Macintoshes alive that can even run it. But many of us still use it because it is the best-darned comic creatin' software ever written!

If you or anyone you know uses CSF on a website or supports it in any way, join the Comic Strip Factory Club Webring and let's keep the fun alive!

If you'd like to see our historically interesting Comic Strip Factory workstation based on a classic Levco Prodigy with a 21" B&W RealTech monitor. (This thing started out as a 'fat' Mac. Fat, at that time, was 512K! This $10K daughterboard upgraded our modest machine to a whopping four megabytes memory with a blazing 16 MHz 68020 processor and its math chip co-processor. How times change...)

BTW, will be developed as a 'Small is Good' Business Web based on an Open Community Business Model starting in 2001. If this sounds interesting to you, drop us a note. You've heard of the tortoise and the hare? Those dot-com bubble-burstings that you hear nearly daily on the evening news... they're the hares.

Support Sohodojo: Your Donations Help our R&D and Publishing Efforts

Sohodojo is a self-funded Applied R&D Lab. And we try to make our R&D-oriented work products nice to look at and read, too. So the dojo is a bit of a publishing house, too. We're trying to give you free agent and small business ideas and technologies unlike anything you're likely to find anywhere else on the Web. This, by definition, means we are NOT mainstream. We rely on your support to keep us going.

Sohodojo is the 'War College' for 'Small is Good' in the New Economy. If you like what you read here. If we make you think. If we're trying to do things that you think need doing, consider showing your support by becoming a Sohodojo sponsor or donor.

Sohodojo in the News: NFIB Activist Profile

"Thinking 'out of the box' is what Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky do best. So it shouldn't be surprising that when these two technology consultants joined NFIB, they immediately began shaking things up..."

Hey, they got that right! Thanks, NFIB. See our 'Activist Profile' on the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Votes web site.

What's Your Story, Storyteller?

You don't have to look too far these days to find highly credible management and business thinkers encouraging us to bring a 'theatrical' perspective to 21st Century business.

Rifkin in his fascinating 'The Age of Access' widely surveys the dramaturgical theories and methodologies of such nearly forgotten but more-timely-than-ever thinkers as Kenneth Burke, Erving Goffman and one of our personal favorites, Kurt Lewin. Scenario-based planning abounds. Role-based business process modeling can more closely resemble Hollywood screenwriting than traditional business planning.

It's all about stories and the storyteller. All these exciting new communication technologies are reawakening our essential human natures which were more shaped by oral storytelling tradition than they are by modern business practice. Jensen, in 'The Dream Society', cites stronger affinities between today and our Hunter-Gatherer heritage than between us Now and our recent Industrial Past. Stories and storytellers are on the rise!

Sohodojo is a story-driven organization. BIG IDEAS for small business. The 'ruthlessly small' nanocorp Underdog and the over-consuming Goliath of a Consumerist World. 'Small is Good' Business Webs as a community-based path to the Road Less Traveled. All stories, all the time. Sohodojo stories capture our spirit and infect others, changing their thinking. The probabilities of our 'elastic networking' with others are directly related to our storytelling abilities.

That's the theme here in our wrap-up issue of 'Rants and Raves 2000'. Stories and storytelling.

"Once upon a time, there was a little nanocorp that belonged to a wonderful 'Small is Good' Business Web. Let me tell you about it..."

Nanocorp Primer #5: Nanocorps in the Story-driven Dream Society

One of the premiere Business Futurists is Rolf Jensen, Director of the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies. We've already summarized Jensen's 'The Dream Society' book in our RIBS update above. The subtitle of his book explains it further, 'How the Coming Shift From Information To Imagination Will Transform Your Business'. It's all about stories and storytelling, imagination and emotion overcoming rote logic.

Not surprisingly, Jensen speaks primarily to an assumed 'Big is Good' business management readership. Big companies sponsor the work of his Institute. So while there are a lot of good thoughts in 'The Dream Society', you have to 'read between the lines' to divine the import for us free agents and small business revolutionaries. Now that's a job for the dojo! So that's what we did. We'd like to share our thoughts with you!

Please join us at Sohodojo to read the latest on-line installment of 'The Nanocorp Primer'. The fifth piece in this growing series is 'Nanocorps in the Dream Society: How 'Small is Good' Business Webs Will Compete in the Story-driven Marketplaces of the 21st Century'

For our TechSIG members, there is an important 'embedded article' called 'The Yin-yang of e-Commerce Engines' which deconstructs Tapscott's Agora Business Webs to add a 'Small is Good' perspective. Given a 'Small is Good' Agora Business Web backdrop, we explore storytelling and gaming dynamics as these ideas relate to functional requirements for an e-Commerce engine to power 'Small is Good' Business Webs (like We admit that this is a bit 'deep weeds', but we encourage you to read this article and send us your comments and/or questions.

LifeSIG Experience Reports: Tell us Your Story

One of our favorite journalistic writers is John McPhee. His non-fiction writing is so often a marvel of storytelling that no less than the Library of Congress has mis-assigned his works Fiction catalog numbers because they were such great stories!

McPhee is a great example of how good information can be spun into great stories. Dan Pink, Tom Petzinger and Mark Albion do similar things closer to home... telling powerful stories about folks like us, people leading free agent and independent small business lives during a time of great change and uncertainty.

Now it's your turn! Hey, you don't have to be a McPhee to get published at Sohodojo. Storytelling is time-honored method for transferring lessons learned and other insights among community members. We want you simply to tell us your true stories.

The 'Experience Reports' section of our LifeSIG is a great place to share your thoughts and get some visibility for your Brand You free agent or small business web site. It's all for glory and self-satisfaction at this point. We can't offer payments other than snazzy author side-bars and profile-based links to your personal or business web site.

If you've tried to 'elastically network' with some colleagues, how did it go? What worked, what didn't? Did you use collaboration technologies to coordinate a virtual team? What's your personal business vision? How do you find balance between work and leisure? Enquiring minds want to know.

You can get a good idea of what your article at Sohodojo might look like by visiting the on-line version of the article by community member, Tony Lawrence, showcased in the next section of this newsletter as well as at the LifeSIG. Here is Tony's Experience Report as we're running it at the LifeSIG.

After checking out Tony's piece, imagine yours there, too! Then drop us a note with your story proposal.

Meet 'Lone Wolf' Tony' Lawrence

Visit Sohodojo community member, Tony Lawrence's Donor-supported Unix Info Hub

We can always count on community member Tony Lawrence to keep us on track for 'ruthless independence'. Tony has a deep and salable technical skill-set that pays his bills. But more importantly to Tony, his skills, knowledge and experience give him complete personal freedom through self-employment.

To help keep his talent-based service sales up, Tony has turned his Brand You web site into a fountainhead of Unix Sys Admin Deep Knowledge. His 'on-line resume' is taking on a life of its own. Check out Tony's ever-growing site at

After digging around Tony's site, we invite you to read his Real Life story that follows...

'Reflections on Self-Employment'
by A.P. 'Lone Wolf Tony' Lawrence

Somebody once said, "I've been rich and I've been poor, and rich is better."

I feel that way about being self employed. I've been self-employed since 1977, and although I did take a few years here and there working as an employee, I wouldn't have it any other way.

It isn't all roses, of course. Nor is it necessarily the path to financial security, although I really do believe that you have far more security working for yourself than you do for anyone else. There are good things, there are not so good things.

When magazines run stories about self-employed people, they usually talk only about the great successes (the gal who started in her basement and now owns MegaComp, Inc.) or the failures (the guy who hocked everything he owned and went bankrupt). Those are the extreme. The real story of the self-employed is people quietly supporting themselves at about the same income level as their employed peers, working more or less as long, more or less as hard.

That's the reality: if you work for yourself, you might go bankrupt, or you might get wealthy, but chances are you'll just make the same sort of living you would doing it for someone else.

'No pain, no gain' and Other Attractions of Self-Employment

So why bother? Well, for one thing, there is that chance of making more money, maybe a lot more money. If that's your goal, you probably have a better chance of reaching it on your own than waiting to be promoted to CEO of IBM. That's especially true if your education has been more hard knocks than ivory tower: while people do get promoted on talent and merit, most of the people doing the promoting want to cover their bets by seeing diplomas attached to the experience. If you don't have that sheepskin, being your own boss makes it unimportant.

There's also freedom, and I really think that this is the most important benefit. I don't mean freedom to take vacations when you want or to work the schedule that you like, although those certainly are benefits. What I mean is freedom to control your own destiny.

The most unhappy, stressed out people are those who are responsible for results, but can't do anything to affect or control those results. That's even been shown in animal studies, and there has been some fuss in management circles about "empowerment" and the like with the idea of giving workers more power to make choices and control some aspects of their work environment, thereby making happier workers.

The Simple Happiness of Self-Determination

The happiest people, of course, are those who can control their environment. That's just natural; we like to make choices. Most people get to do that fully only in their personal lives. We understand that all those choices won't be the best, that some of them will turn out badly, but we still want to make them ourselves. We choose our own friends, we choose our favorite foods, we choose our own hobbies, and most of us wouldn't want it any other way.

In the workplace, however, no matter how "empowered" you are, most folks don't really get to make their own choices. Someone above you, often a faceless someone, is making decisions that can drastically affect your life, and you don't have much control at all.

Unless you work for yourself, of course. Then you have total control, and (of course) total responsibility.

That responsibility sometimes scares people. I know, I've been through it: I'm not good enough, I'm not smart enough, I don't know enough. I'll never make it. Consider this, though:

If you are good enough that someone else will employ you, you are good enough to work for yourself.

It just makes sense: your boss needs to you do a job. Obviously you are good enough so that boss was willing to hire you. If that's true, his customers (or other customers just like them) will be willing to "hire" you, too.

And that is where true security comes from. When you are an employee, your security comes from the opinions and needs of a handful of people, sometimes even just one person. If they decide that you aren't doing the job they want, or that their needs have changed, your security just disappears instantly. But if it comes from a dozen, a hundred, or a few thousand customers, then the loss of one who doesn't like you, or whose needs have just outgrown you, isn't important. Your income may drop a little this month, but it doesn't stop, and there is always a new customer just around the corner. That's real security.

-- A.P. ('Lone Wolf' Tony) Lawrence --

This article is a self-published, original work by Tony Lawrence. It appears in its original form on Tony's personal website at this URL: Sohodojo thanks Tony for his kind permission to reprint this article which is copyright December 1998 A.P. Lawrence. All rights reserved.

In closing...

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Holidays Everyone!

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

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