Posts filed under 'Inprosumerism'

Envisioning A Self-Empowered World in 2050

Paul,Your evocative story will hopefully play out entirely as described well before 2050. It is also reasonable to think that the spark to fund this vision will come from the Omidyar Network. And, it is also likely that this vision will “trickle over” from ONet to become the strategic basis for the expansion of eBay’s core business processes from price-focused product markets into the potentially far larger markets of impact-focused relationship markets of the 21st century and beyond.

While the pundits speculate on which technology-driven market Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo will choose as the battleground to topple eBay (The Big Guns’ Next Target: eBay), they miss the “end run” in play by which eBay may leverage itself into a whole new ballgame. This is, interestingly, the level playing field of Tom Friedman’s Globalization 3.0 described in The World Is Flat, that is, the emerging world of Empowered Individuals.

From Shopping for Things to Shopping as Experience

Certainly Anthea and Mfume are empowered Flat Worlders. Their world, as you have described it Paul, is experience-oriented rather than materialistic. They are inprosumers engaged in a cyclic process of investing, producing and consuming rather than being the insatiable recipients at the end of a one-way supply chain of more stuff.

In the Ned and Life In Africa discussions at ONet, we have contributed a number of posts envisioning and encouraging this evolution toward impact-oriented, relationship-driven consumer markets. You will find a collection of these posts pulled together under the Inprosumer and Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystems categories of Sohodojo’s Omidyar.net Blog. These comments and short articles certainly resonate with your vision for the Self Empowered World of 2050.

Learning from Hollywood

As to the all-important question of what can we do now to bring this vision for a Better World into reality sooner than later, we believe social enterprise funders need to turn a learning eye toward Hollywood. There are important lessons to be learned in understanding the evolution of the film industry from an organization-centric world of centralized studios to the decentralized, network-based production of independent films in the last half of the 20th century.

The funding and infrastructure support requirements to enable the entrepreneurial community ecosystems and alternative markets of Anthea and Mfume’s world are similar to those that support the network-based process of independent film making. Unfortunately, the vast majority of social sector and social enterprise funders have an organization-centric mindset. They are, metaphorically, more interested to investing in the film industry rather than funding and facilitating the production of films.

We have written more extensively on these ideas in a grant proposal, Workshop on Funding and Support of Social Business Ecosystems in the Small Is Good World, that we submitted to the Skoll Foundation. Although the theme of this year’s Skoll World Forum is “Leveraging assets, growing social capital markets: sustainable routes to wealth and well-being,” this proposal was rejected with the only explanation that it did not fit the focus and interests of the foundation. While this proposal is unfunded, it is nevertheless full of insights and recommendations from those of us struggling to be pioneers in the creation of these social business ecosystems and their alternative markets.

The single most important thing that needs to happen if Anthea and Mfume are to live in their future Self Empowered World, is that social sector and social enterprise funders have to shed their organization-centric blinders. We need funders who will embrace their roles as executive producers of the entrepreneurial community ecosystems and alternative markets of Anthea and Mfume’s Self Empowered World.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 31st, 2006

Toto… We’re not in Kansas (Kampala or Kanpur) anymore!

Following the Yellow Brick Road, courtesy of MPTV.net Dorothy uttered these now famous words, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. She and her pet dog were swept up in the whirlwind of a tornado that magically transported them to the imaginary Utopian world of Oz.

Were Dorothy to comment on the emerging cyclonic world that Tom Friedman characterizes as Globalization 3.0 in The World Is Flat, she might have included the other lo-K-tions in this post’s title. In the emerging world of globally connected, Empowered Individuals, geographic location is no longer the overwhelming determiner of opportunity and quality of life that it has been throughout history.

We’re making this point in response to comments by Jeff Mowatt and Wendy Kelly in the ned: philanthropic franchise conversation on Omidyar.net:

Jeff Mowatt said (our emphasis [context] added):

…I’m trying to ascertain whether NED [Networked Enterprise Development] aims to achieve this [financial and market sustainability] externally by virtue of being a franchised version of something like an OXFAM shop, offering fair trade goods from developing countries to Western markets and thereby opening markets for micro-enterprises in the developing world. [snip]

On the other hand, could this franchise be deployable in developing world locations on the ground? In this way engaging local people to produce competitively with a free market system and earn at least a living wage, at the same time setting aside funds committed to development of new enterprises.

The former would in my mind be sustained philanthropy and the latter sustained self-determination. Is NED both of these things?

Along similar lines, Wendy Kelly said (our emphasis [context] added):

I am in Nelson BC (shangrila [British Columbia, Canada]) we are the perfect size (10,000) progressive small town. Small Walmart, but vibrant downtown. TONS of fair trade here. Our own coffee (organic, fair trade, excellent) [snip]

Thoughts are that it is necessary; we should be careful about expecting people to buy stuff just because they should (mentioned above); also, do we need to go overseas? Could we not buy and sell small town local stuff at NED? [snip…] if we are there to connect small communities, wouldn’t it be more on target to sell stuff made by other small towns (or small city neighbourhoods) that don’t have access to large exposure?

All good to have the African/Asian, etc stuff as well, but just thinkging that there are tons of local artists here (and in other artsy small towns) that could benefit from having the exposure of NED. As David Suzuki said, it’s time to think local, act local.

Jeff and Wendy, as we have replied before within the Ned conversation, these are all excellent and timely questions. They are, in fact, profound questions when taken in light of the emergence of Globalization 3.0. (See this recent post for Flat World globalization era context.)

When Nations and Corporations Become Background Noise

As the world flattens throughout the emerging era of Globalization 3.0, nations and multinational corporations increasingly become background noise. This is not to say that nations and giant corporations are not powerful and influential anymore. Rather, and this is a vital undercurrent message in Friedman’s book, today’s ICT (Information, Communication, and Transportation) technologies empower the Individual to imagine and then realize his or her own place in the world.

And, thanks to these ICT technologies, our Individual place in the world is no longer strictly bounded by geography nor by the organizations with which we are affiliated.

To say that Globalization 3.0 is the era of the Empowered Individual is not glib hyperbole. This is a challenge to revolutionize the way each of us looks at and behaves in the world.

Paradigm Shift: From Developing Nations to Developing Individuals

The World Is Flat in a Nutshell Globalization 1.0 and 2.0 were about developed countries and developing countries. International aid was about exchange between nations and insurgency (benevolent and otherwise) by multinational corporations as they set up and/or moved their operations for market access and economic advantage.

Globalization 3.0 is about developed individuals and developing individuals.

In Globalization 1.0 and 2.0, developing countries struggled to overcome the devastating impact of being marginalized. That is, they struggled to overcome the impact of being denied access and participation in the world’s political and economic systems.

During Globalization 3.0, our challenge as Individuals is to work our way out of, or to work to keep from becoming, marginalized as Individuals. In the 21st century, there are hundreds of millions of marginalized Individuals. These masses are struggling in New York just as sure are they are struggling in New Delhi. You’ll find them in rural Kansas just as sure as you will find them in urbanized Kampala.

Sure, there has always been poverty everywhere. But marginalization in the era of Globalization 3.0 is not a unidimensional, socioeconomic phenomena that can be reduced to a matter of money. Marginalization in Globalization 3.0 will have many faces and many battlefronts. It is as likely to be found in the home of a forced-retirement IT worker in suburban Minneapolis as it is to be found in a hut in a rural village of Banda Aceh. It will be found in the farmhouses of rural Iowa as well as in the urban ghettos of Rio de Janeiro.

The reality for each of us is this: In the hyper-competitive world of Globalization 3.0, nation-states and giant corporations are going to have their hands full just taking care of themselves and their already enfranchised citizenry and customers. We will have a very long wait if we expect our lives as Empowered Individuals to be handed to us on silver platters from the governments where we live, or from the corporations from which we buy things or where we work.

The Globalization 3.0 Challenge: Wealthshifting from the Big Three

Becoming an Empowered Individual in the Flat World of Globalization 3.0 is exciting and, let’s be honest, a bit scary. It can be scary to know that we are quite literally on our own. But paradoxically, what makes our Globalization 3.0 lives scary is what makes them exciting as well.

As Empowered Individuals of Globalization 3.0, we all share the same fundamental goal. Our shared goal is to shift wealth from the Big Three to the rest of us. The Big Three are nation-states, multinational corporations, and the world’s wealthiest individuals who have more money than most of us can imagine.

Our means to achieving this shift of wealth is not through violent revolution nor any other form of replacing an existing One Right Way with yet another, different One Right Way.

Our means to empowering Individuals in the Globalization 3.0 world will be to envision alternatives in how we organize to do work and create economic and social value, and in how we envision and create markets. Nothing short of a revolutionary alternative — an alternative, not a replacement — of our understanding of, and strategies for, investment, production, and consumption will achieve the scale of social and economic change that is possible in the Globalization 3.0 era.

When enough of us make this shift in how we think about ourselves and how we think about our world and the power of our place in it, the full potential of Globalization 3.0 will begin to be realized. The cyclone of change of Globalization 3.0 will pluck each of us from our homes in Kansas, Kampala, and Kanpur and we will find ourselves networked, hand-in-hand, in the Flat World of Empowered Individuals.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 9th, 2006

Are You Experienced?

John Berger said (our emphasis added):

[snip] But is it reasonable or creditworthy to set up an e-commerce model without significant marketing or other component (ned) that will drive people to the site?

Do you have any idea how many billions of dollars have been spent on ecommerce sites that never worked. [snip] Basically she did everything right absent being able to spend a lot of money on marketing. End result ?? she is lucky to get a handful of sales every month.

E-commerce sites only seem like they are cheap to set up, but they need a ton of capital, luck, or a really unique product to succeed.

This is why ned could be really cool. A distribution platform that people go into for a core product and experience but which can be used to market products at a lower cost. Perhaps the sneaker-net beats the internet?

The World Is Flat in a Nutshell Absolutely, John! And we detect a growing Globalization 3.0 Small Is Good World insight creeping into your thoughtful contributions. Your comments above and the recent lively thread of discussion relevant to the financial implications for Ned partnering and distribution strategy further support our point most recently addressed in this reply to Mark. We were responding to Mark’s concern that ‘reinventing consumerism’ might be too limiting a vision for Ned. In our reply we noted that Ned would be both “the obvious plus something more,” and that this meant Ned needs to ultimately differentiate itself on an “unstuff (non-product) dimension” of the emerging Globalization 3.0 Flat World.

In the Big Is Good World of Globalization 2.0, price-sensitive market/brand differentiation was pretty much tied to offering options based on perceived quality and/or service and/or support.

Globalization 3.0’s emerging Flat World of Empowered Networked Individuals creates a new, truly revolutionary opportunity to reinvent consumerism — that is, to shift (some, not all) consumer/market dynamics from a stuff/product focus to an experience/community focus.

A screenshot of Fast Company's cover story issue, Your Job Is Change Using distribution partnerships, such as TTV and WoG channels, is a form of change insurgency strategy that is not just good business but a necessary extension of the recruitment network needed to expose folks to Ned’s secret sauce — that is, as John referred to it above, Ned’s experience, its community/commerce-platform that will distinguish it in the marketplace now and, more importantly, into the future.

As you read or reread Tom Friedman’s The World Is Flat, notice how frequently he keeps reminding us that flattening is an ongoing process. As flat as the world is now, it will become hyper-flat in the years ahead. Using a diversified distribution and partnering strategy is how Ned rides the ebbing wave of Globalization 2.0. Having a radically innovative vision to be the first-mover in an experience-based, “unstuff”, inprosuming, Globalization 3.0 marketplace… this is what will ultimately leverage Ned into being the Next Big Thing.

In this context, it is not so much that sneaker-net beats the internet as it is that in the ever-flattening Flat World, Globalization 3.0 nets (AKA network marketplaces) will sustainably compete with (and in time on their own terms, beat) Globalization 2.0 nets.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 6th, 2006

Reinventing Consumerism: No One Right Way

Mark Grimes said (our emphasis added):

Jim and Timlynn…I dig the new blog, very cool. WRT to reinventing consumerism, while I agree personally, I also think there needs to include all levels of engagement. Some people just want their coffee for the day, and that’s okay too.

Absolutely agreed. Reinventing does not mean replacing. We don’t want to throw out the old One Right Way for a new One Right Way. It’s about alternatives and choice. There are certainly both deep and surface shoppers in our vision of the Flat World’s expanded marketplace of Globalization 3.0.

What will ‘hook’ the surface shopper is the “gravity” of the underlying deep shoppers’ experience-based community. These surface-folks will be thinking, “Hey, there’s something different and interesting going on here,” and “I may just grab a cuppa joe today, but I know I feel good about being even a small part of what is going on here.” Over time some non-trivial number of surface folks will dive deeper.

If we don’t shoot for something radically innovative and seductively compelling, Ned could end up being just another exercise in stretching the do-good/feel-good strategy of traditional retailing and marketing. “Fair trade” is fast becoming just two ubiquitous words on packaging akin to “New, Improved.”

This doesn’t mean that you have to bet the Ned farm on an “all or nothing” innovation strategy. But it does mean that you have to have a deep and compelling mission/vision from the start. That mission has to set the bar very high for what will be the Next Big Thing. Being just a tweak on 10,000 Villages or OXFAM isn’t good enough.

The Hungry Consumer isn’t yearning to fill him or herself with yet more stuff. They want something that the Big Is Good World hasn’t delivered and isn’t capable of producing.

Ned will be wildly successful to the extent that it deeply understands and delivers the “unstuff” dimension of the Globalization 3.0 marketplace of empowered Individuals.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 4th, 2006

If ‘Second Life’ can do it, so can Ned

Norman Rockwell's idyllic Tom Sawyer Painting the Fence Christina, this is a vital and most interesting topic. We are ruminating on your specific ideas and provocative questions and will respond accordingly.In the meantime, we’d like to bring folks’ attention to this piece, What Tom Sawyer Knew, our recent contribution to the MicroFinance Marketplace conversation. This piece is probably more appropriate to this conversation than the MFM project-specific conversation where it was originally posted.

In particular, consider closely this referenced article, ‘Second Life’ membership now free. The last paragraph is particularly suggestive (see sidebar, our emphasis added).

Heck, if we can’t get creative and provide an community-rich on-line experience that rivals or surpasses an imaginary virtual world, then we should hang up our social entreprenurial shoes and head for the Old Folks Home.

In other words, forget about ROI, sell experience!

This discussion fits squarely in Sohodojo’s interest in the reinvention of consumerism to what we’ve called inprosumerism, that is, the experience-based involvement of the empowered Individual to participate in the full cycle of investment, production and consumption rather than being a bottomless sucking ashcan at the end of a product-pushing supply chain.

Here’s a link to our ONet blog’s Inprosumer category page where the individual blog posts contain links back to their source ONet conversations.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 4th, 2006

On Christina’s new Craft production conversation

Mark Grimes said:

Okay, had a very long 3+ hour FTF meeting this AM (and one hour phone meeting last night) that dealt in some very concrete ways with what you’re both talking about here…will write more and drop in here ASAP…this is all very relevant to Ned.

Hey Mark, Christina, Jeff,

We’ll be ruminating and posting to Christina’s latest Craft production discussion very soon. In the meantime, we’d like to bring your attention to this piece, What Tom Sawyer Knew, our recent contribution to the MicroFinance Marketplace conversation.

Christina’s new discussion and the cluster of recent comments here are all related to Sohodojo’s interest in the reinvention of consumerism to what we’ve called inprosumerism, that is, the experience-based involvement of the empowered Individual to participate in the full cycle of investment, production and consumption rather than being a bottomless sucking ashcan at the end of a product-pushing supply chain.

Here’s a link to our ONet blog’s Inprosumer category page where the individual blog posts contain links back to their source ONet conversations (most of which are Ned-related).

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 4th, 2006

What Tom Sawyer Knew

Norman Rockwell's idyllic Tom Sawyer Painting the Fence If Tom Sawyer had put on his Banker’s Hat rather than his Entrepreneur’s Hat that fateful, fictional day in Hannibal, Aunt Polly’s fence would never have gotten painted.

(Can’t recall the details of Twain’s mythic tale, here’s a reprint.)

We’re not against developing creative instruments for micro-level lending and equity investment. They have a place in the MicroFinance Marketplace. But it is, after all, a marketplace and not a hallowed hall. A marketplace can be as exciting as a three-ring circus or as boring and constrained as a Victorian men’s club. We choose to put our creative juices into the circus side of things.

Consider that we live in a world where:

A Better World Is a Fence to be Painted

Considering these and related trends, there is no reason that we cannot create a story-rich, game-like on-line experience — NED On-line if you will — where tens of thousands of people are willing to pay, say $20/month, for the sheer joy and excitement of participation in this active, vibrant global on-line community. A place where everyday activity in this virtual world has a Matrix-like impact creating a better world in the Real World.

This membership subscription is not a loan nor an investment. It is a fee for experience, for access, for having a voice in what goes on in this ever-growing, ever-evolving on-line global community.

Once you are a member, it will be up to you to decide how to ‘invest’ your Better World Tokens. Perhaps you’ll purchase two shares of goat wool futures of a herd in Uganda. Later, you’ll lock in an hour of loom time craft futures of a New Mexico weaver.

You don’t do this with an expectation of below market return rates on repayment of a loan to the shepherd. Nor do you do it to own an equity share in Acme Weavers of New Mexico, Inc. You do this to be a stakeholder in the process that brings this wool to market, to have a voice in what the weaver makes, and to what Impact Point the sale of that wool and the weaver’s sweater will be directed. You’ll do it to get to know and care about the shepherd and the weaver as you shift your focus from the wool and sweater of a product-focused supply chain to a people-centered investment-production-consumption cycle.

Claus Kormannshaus' Tom Sawyer Painting the Better World Fence Next month, you’ll increase your share in wool futures of the goat herd, and lock in 20 board-feet of lumber to be produced by a sustainable forestry co-op in Maine. Your purchases from the NED On-line marketplace over the last few weeks have been rewarded with a stack of additional Better World Tokens that you apply to a community development project to raise a wind turbine in an Aceh fishing village.

Within three months you’ve parlayed your participation tokens into a growing account such that your Impact Quotient has landed you on the Top 10 Rookies of the Month list at NED On-line. You set your sites for Hall of Impact Fame recognition within a year. Even if you miss your personal goal, you’ve had a heck of a creative, fun time helping to make a better world.

Now multiply this hypothetical NED On-line player/character community member by many thousands. With an addictive “serious play” environment and an effective reward system for impactful participation, imagine how many miles of Better World Fence we can paint if we can just learn to think like Tom Sawyer.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

1 comment December 29th, 2005

‘Investment’ as a Fee for Experience/Voice not Ownership

Hello All,

It is great to see so many voices involved in this important conversation.

As you may know, Sohodojo is a major advocate/voice for the emerging Small Is Good World. This is the world of Empowered Individuals. The Small Is Good World is all about individuals working together. It is not organization-centric.

We strongly believe that the success of MFM will be found by emphasizing person-to-person relationships rather than relying on or imitating the structure or behavior patterns of organizations and institutions. We also strongly believe that, at least initially, investing rather than lending will be the most effective means of establishing lasting person-to-person relationships through the MFM. Shared risk and reward puts us together in a situation where active, peer-to-peer involvement is encouraged.

Being an arms’ length banker/lender is boring. How many of us grew up saying, “When I grow up, I want to be a banker!” Okay, some did, but not many! :-) And, in some subtle ways, the banker/borrower relationship perpetuates colonial superior/subordinate relations.

Investing is different. If we were to invest in WE Center Bead Production Futures, we have a shared risk through that investment. This creates an incentive to see that the venture we’ve invested in succeeds. We have ’skin in the game’. We are much more likely to take an active role in helping to market and sell the results of that production. If we are merely a lender/banker, all we care about is awaiting repayment.

We look forward to working together to develop the MFM into a powerful marketplace for personal and community development.

–Sohodojo Timlynn and Jim–

Add comment December 7th, 2005

Economic Utility and Depth of Inprosumer Engagement

nmw said:

[snip]… There may be a small problem with this [[’this’ being a reference to the complexity and delayed gratificatiom of inprosumer ’shopping as it can be’]]: Economic “utility” is generally assumed to be non-uniform (in other words, stuff that makes one person happy might not make another person happy — and/or perhaps just not to the same degree)

Hey Norbert,

No problem. Your IQ (Impact Quotient) is subjective, not a uniform scalar/metric.

What we were trying to say is that your NED On-line Profile maintains a persistent ‘log’ (storybook, game-scorecard) as an growing reminder of your activity and accomplishments — your impact — as an engaged ’round-trip’ investor, producer, consumer.

Economic Utility — Is that all there is?

Related to your concern, Norbert, and as expressed by others in prior posts, there is the apprehension that the efficiency of a price- and distribution-optimized market has, by definition, higher economic utility — “I just want to get my stuff and go home.”

Again, no problem. When you are in stuff acquisition mode, you will engage in shopping as it is.

But to a large degree — and it is echoed by the level of activity in this discussion and in Onet itself as in other ‘change the world’ on-line communities — a lot of us are singing Peggy Lee’s song and asking “Is that all there is?”

A Few Words About Depth of Engagement

Please understand that incorporating shopping as it can be (inprosuming) into the NED business model is not a mutually exclusive choice that banishes shopping as it is from the picture. In fact, shopping as it is is both a necessary baseline of sales volume as well as a vital engagement opportunity that feeds new recruits into the ranks of inprosumers (those doing shopping as it can be).

You will see this “A-ha” idea-moment of self-recruitment reflected in a ‘feedback loop’ in our Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystem input/output model. This transformation happens when a ‘Surface Shopper’ takes the next step into active and ongoing participation in the NED community. The inprosumer is a Deep Shopper. By his or her persistent involvement in the community, the Deep Shopper is demonstrating that he or she has found a new level of personally rewarding economic utility that cannot be achieved by continuing to simply do shallow shopping.

Note, too, that this recruitment is not a means of merely cloning producers. The last thing we need is water down the producers’ opportunity by creating a vast army of home-based candlemakers, weavers, beaders, what have you. Rather, we need to entice each Deep Shopper to bring his or her own bottle of secret sauce to the table.

We need to entice Open Source programmers to contribute code to our back-end and eCommerce platform projects. We need to engage sales and marketing people to sell and market. We need multi-linguists to help the community to communicate among its members. We need lawyers and business folk to craft the agreements, licenses, and other instruments needed to create and evolve new forms of dynamic collaborative network enterprises. We also need to engage academic and other researchers to do applied research projects that help us to invent new ways to shop, organize, market, and collaborate. In short, we need a whole range of folks to find their own unique and personal way to participate in NED’s entrepreneurial community ecosystem.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment December 7th, 2005

Inprosumerism — Imagining Shopping as it Can Be

A while back we contributed a post that juxtaposed shopping as it is with shopping as it can be. Some folks liked the idea, others wrestled with what shopping as it can be might be like.

Break these Chains

To get to shopping as it can be we have to expand the context of consumption. Being a consumer is not just about being a bottomless pit that sucks more and more stuff into it. For many of us, being a consumer is about being the final link in a chain, a supply chain, that extracts materials from the earth, transforms these materials into useful products that we then buy and use.

In the Big Is Good World, where insatiable consumption is a requirement for market sustainability, the chain is a straight line from raw material extractor, through producer to consumer.

As the Industrial Age gave way to the Information Age, there was the start of a paradigm shift that is reflected by futurist Alvin Tofler’s coining the term prosumer [more at Wikipedia], a concatenation of the words producer and consumer. Tofler and others were exploring the potential for consumers to take a more active role in the form and substance of these supply chains that satisfy our needs. As recently as the Cluetrain Manifesto we’ve been told that we can expect to be more satisfied consumers to the extent that we are invited into the conversation that shapes what is produced for our consumption.

Still, there is something missing. As Peggy Lee asked, “Is that all there is?” [Lyrics to the most depressing hit song ever and about Nihilism].

Enter the Inprosumer

But a chain can link back onto itself to form a circle, the supply chain becomes a cycle. We take a step beyond prosumer to inprosumerinvestor, producer, consumer.

There will be many ways that we can tap into the dynamics of stories and games to empower new forms of shopping as it can be. But here are a few ideas we’ve had along these lines… ideas that could help to shape the NED community and its associated shopping experience (both on-line and in-store).

For rich folks, exclusivity has often been a sought-after feature of a product. Exclusivity in this context is closely related to limited supply and high price. But what if product exclusivity was instead a matter of foresight, risk-sharing, and creativity!?

Under shopping as it is, you might get the thrill of owning a limited edition sweater by going to an exclusive high fashion store and paying an extraordinary amount of money for something that only a very few people can afford.

On the other hand, you might get an equally exclusive sweater by shopping as it can be at NED. Instead of needing a giant pile of cash, at NED you need foresight and creativity.

First, you’d want to invest in two or three sheep in a shepherd’s herd in southwest New Mexico or maybe West Africa. Planning ahead for your share of the Spring shearing, you’ll want to have invested in some Loom Time Futures for sale by a talented Weaver’s co-op or guild such as Tapetes de Lana.

Even after you have that one-of-a-kind sweater made from the wool of your own sheep, woven by your favorite weaver, you still have a few pounds left over. So you take your excess wool, along with your quarterly share of lumber from your investment in a sustainable forestry venture in Maine, along with any excess Craft Production Time Futures you have accumulated from other activities you are invested in, and you go searching around the story-driven, game-oriented NED marketplace.

You search finds that there are three community development fundraising campaigns going on that you’d like to support. So you negotiate the contribution of your raw materials and production capacity, and come to terms on your expected return on investment if any.

Some time passes and you’d like to add a goat to your herd-share. Rather than pay for it outright, you do some marketing work and land a nice order for the herd’s pooled surplus wool.

Over the five years that you have been a NED Inprosumer, you have racked up quite an Impact Quotient. When you log onto the NED community web site, your User Profile makes your world-changing impact very clear. You’ve had a hand in drilling dozens of wells in villages in Africa. You own a nice chunk of Loom Time Futures in a famous Weavers Co-op in New Mexico. You know the potter who made your dishes, and the chandler who makes your candles. You don’t just know who these talented people are, you know them as fellow entrepreneurial activists as you’ve shared risk and reward with them on dozens of community and personal development projects.

A Game of Inches

Does this mean the end to shopping as it is? Not at all. Shopping as it can be isn’t a replacement to traditional markets. It is a moderator of the excesses of unbridled consumption.

Imagine the total impact on the planet if we were to shift just a few percentage points of consumption from shopping as it is into shopping as it can be. This shift will get more and more of us to broaden our perspective, to see consumption in terms of the people impacted rather than the stuff produced.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment December 6th, 2005

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