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Divide and Conquer… the Flat World

In LiA Website change and development converation, Christina Kirabo Jordan said [our emphasis added]:

The self-creation of this kind of content [SJT: a-z profile info] is an empowering thing that won’t be lost this time around. Because not all of the a-z has to be filled out, individual differentiation comes into play - it’s what makes your profile different from mine. If I am a cook and a craftmaker I might have recipes on my page and products to order, but if I am a recently graduated journalism student, then my profile and my activities within the webbed lia realm will be much different. It’s all life in africa. We are each unique, we are each very real and you can engage with us, we are each active in contributing to our community web presence, and we are (or have been in the recent past) the poorest of Africa’s poor. We are not counted as real people anywhere else, but in working together with others to create our own presence at we are encouraged to let our individuality shine all over the world.

Christina, we know you already understand what we will be saying below. Mentoring and peer-collaboration are at the heart of your WE Center and Internet4Change initiatives. Our comments here are rhetorical, intended to get the ideas on the table in the context of this discussion.

Peer Collaboration as a Divide and Conquer Strategy

We absolutely agree that member profiles will be critical to differentiating each member from another, as well as help to create an “interface socket” that prospective customers and collaborators can “plug” into. And while self-creation of at least some content is important, it is also good to keep in mind that the webbed lia realm is fertile ground for skill and role differentiation that can create collaborative subnetworks where the whole (community) is greater than the sum of its (individual effort) parts.

For example, it may be that the journalism student Christina mentioned could team up with three-to-six cooks and craftspeople to assist the group in creating an individual and collective web presence that is far more effective than if content creation were left completely to each individual.

Such peer-collaborative subgroups can be very helpful in letting each individual do what he or she does best while getting assistance with the things he or she either can’t do (yet), or doesn’t really want (or have the time) to learn to do better.

Value chains and career paths in an entrepreneurial communify ecosystem Here in Fairfield, which is both an entrepreneurial and an artistic small town, we have a thriving but (except for the ’superstars’) also a struggling community of visual and performing artists. Last year we had an ‘artpreneur’ workshop to help artists become more entrepreneurial in managing their self-employment careers.

One result of the conversations at this workshop was to better understand that the goal is not to turn artists into “suits” (AKA businessmen and women). Rather, we are working to connect ‘artist-friendly’ business folks (accountants, lawyers, marketers, etc.) with artists so that their collaboration helps to fill the skill and interest ‘gaps’ of the artist.

Sure, many of the artists need a better grasp of the strategies for being more business-like with their creative lives. But they don’t have to become an accountant or lawyer to succeed. For the entrepreneurial community ecosystem to be sustainable, its members have to be able to communicate and appreciate what each member brings to the table.

Food for Thought About the LiA/WE/I4C Web Platform

Sohodojo wrote and published The Nanocorp Primer in 2000. This collection of article/presentations explores ideas related to Christina’s LiA/WE/I4C notion of webbed empowerment. In particular, the Shamrocks and Nanocorps piece explores the complementary role of value-chains and entreprenurial ‘career paths’ in the network enterprises of entrepreneurial community ecosystems. These pieces don’t speak to the technical implementation aspects of the LiA/WE/I4C web platform. Rather they highlight design requirements and domain context to frame such web development. The Nanocorp Primer includes:

We encourage interested folks to read and we welcome comments on these ‘idea generators’ in the context of this conversation about requirements for the LiA/WE/I4C web platform.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 31st, 2006

Square Pegs and Round Holes

Mark Grimes said:

The other side of this is working with 1,000 global co-ops each with 25 artisans making one different thing each sounds like a merchandising nightmare…to me. That might all do well on Ebay, but it seems like from the outset to incorporate limited resource items into and online and nascent real world chain of stores could be very problematic.

The answer here may not be so clear-cut, especially in the context of the Square Pegs and Round Holes Dilemma. If the idea is to leverage off-the-shelf supply chain software infrastructure (whether physical retail or eCommerce), then this might very well be a nightmare. But if a design-point of the business model is to tap previously untapped consumer dynamics and small producer supply characteristics, then the issue is more a matter of developing system requirements (the round hole) and whittling (extending) a software platform (square peg) to fit it.

This may be more work than going with a canned solution, but if this difference is essential to the business model/brand differentiation strategy, then it is essential to do early and effectively. When it comes to selecting a core system platform, this is an early “make or break” (as opposed to “make or buy”) decision.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 25th, 2006

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