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An Applied R&D Lab Serving Solo and Family-based Entrepreneurs in Rural and Distressed Urban Communities

The Nanocorp Primer #4

Shamrocks and Nanocorps

Bridging the Digital Divide with 'Small is Good' Business Webs

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In this presentation we're rationalizing the development of 'Small is Good' Business Webs from the standpoint of businesses using this business model to acheive a competitive advantage. But 'Small is Good' Business Webs are actually an emergent characteristic in the Free Agent lifecycle.

Entrepreneurial Free Agent: It's a Vision-driven World

Opportunity is Freedom
Some become Free Agents by choice and wear it as a badge of honor. For others, free agency is a fact of life that goes by a variety of less exciting names -- temp worker, contract laborer, contingency worker, self-employed... a short rung above 'unemployed' for anyone lacking scarce high-tech skills.

In a world where traditional jobs are disappearing, those on the 'wrong side' of the Digital Divide can be absolutely shut down by the lack of opportunity. How can they develop the self-respect and initiative that lead to personal fulfillment and a sense of achievement and security?

In the 21st Century, community economic development will not be sustained by using tax incentives to lure in help from outside - pulling in corporations to deliver 'jobs' for local folks. 'Jobs' as we have known them are nearly extinct, and they're not coming back.

How will communities survive? They will have to transform themselves from the inside out, creating sustainable, fine-grained opportunities for all community members to participate directly in free enterprise systems. But what kind of free enterprise system and what kinds of sustainable opportunities?

Sohodojo is a 'sandbox' where Entrepreneurial Free Agents from both sides of the Digital Divide can collaborate to build 'Small is Good' business webs of opportunity where each member may achieve personal freedom and independence while contributing to a sustainable community future for all.

If participating in this community sounds interesting to you, please drop us a note with your ideas and interests.

We humans wilt and suffer in an environment where we feel we have no control; when we feel powerless to meaningfully affect our own activity. Many of us feel surrounded by this kind of deadening environment in our jobs and careers. The Free Agent lifestyle looks very attractive.

When you leave traditional job-oriented employment for the free agent approach to work, you leave your career path for an opportunity web. Your life in the web will have a lifecycle, just as your job-oriented career had a lifecycle.

At first, you inventory and hone your skills, selling your talent to the highest bidder. You have the freedom to choose to do or not do a project.

Once you sign a contract, you do whatever the bidder wants you to do. Fair enough. And interesting, too... at first. But over time, the 'Have Skills will Travel' approach to free agency can become as stale and unrewarding as the job you left.

Whether it's age, wisdom or a growing need to make a contribution to something larger than yourself, you begin to look for projects that can 'make a difference'. You seek out others with similar visions. The entrepreneurial side of the free agent lifecycle -- your nanocorp -- begins to come into play.

The entrepreneurial free agent looks beyond work-for-hire contracts to collaborate with others to develop dejobbed small businesses. These dejobbed business begin to take shape through the self-organizing of like-minded free agent and nanocorper peers around the personal vision of each collaborator to contribute to some 'Greater Good'.

In pursuit of these personally fulfilling nanocorp business visions, peer-to-peer elastic networks develop around shared risk/reward opportunities. These persistent opportunities are encapsulated in the dejobbed small businesses that are added to your maturing free agent portfolio of concurrent activities. You have become a nanocorp with a growing portfolio of projects and dejobbed businesses.

How do elastic networks of entrepreneurial free agents emerge and evolve? They start with a shared vision and develop in a model-driven world.

You need a business/life vision that is tightly-aligned with an implementation strategy. And implementing business vision and strategy in software is all about models, software models of some 'real system' in the Real World.

'Mirror Worlds': Not Just an Idea, an Imperative!

Highly Recommended
Mirror Worlds is a Sohodojo must-read.
David Gelernter's Mirror Worlds is the most important book about the Internet that isn't an Internet book!

TechSIG members should pay particular attention to Gelernter's ideas about distributed parallel computing architectures as they relate to building executable models like The Nancorp Game.

When software models are cloistered in a 'sandbox' and run with 'what-if' data-sets, we call them simulations. The more we know about the variables and dynamics of a modeled system, the better the performance of our simulation will reflect the behavior of the Real World system it models.

But a curious thing happens when you connect the input and output feeds of the simulation to the mechanisms which regulate the system modeled. You get what computer scientist David Gelernter calls a Mirror World. The simulation becomes a heads-up display for the Real World system it models. This two-way interconnection means that sometimes you affect the Real World by twiddling the 'simulation' and sometimes you affect the 'simulation' by twiddling (doing stuff) in the Real World.

The Internet phenomena is the biggest self-organizing and self-managing project building the largest Mirror World imaginable. The impact of this development is truly historic in proportion. But the impact is 'in the small' as well.

For the entrepreneurial free agent, the only way to be 'in control' in this ever-changing Mirror World of the modern workplace is to have software technologies that enable a vision-driven, multi-threaded portfolio work/life.

Role/Actor Executable Business Models for Elastic Networking in 'Small is Good' Business Webs

Consistent with a Mirror Worlds perspective on the entrepreneurial free agent's portfolio life, our TechSIG is working on a collection of Open Source collaboration technologies which can most easily be called role/actor executable business models. These technologies cluster into a 'three-plane' framework:

  • Strategy/Vision plane (Client-side desktop)
  • Person/Actor plane (social network dynamics)
  • Role/Organization plane (project-space, dejobbed small businesses)

Just some of the TechSIG projects and vision...

Our TechSIG as Outsourced R&D

Sohodojo is a dejobbed small business chartered as an applied R&D lab. Originally envisioned to be owned and operated by a federation of nanocorps, Sohodojo is now chartered as a non-profit corporation to better support the lab's social action mission serving nanocorp-based solo and family-based entrepreneurs in rural and distressed urban communities. Sohodojo conducts research and development of Small is Good Business Web technologies and develops associated educational materials that nanocorps utilize in the implementation of their individual and shared business visions.

In the true 'Small is Good' and Open Source sense of community, Sohodojo freely supplies the results of its R&D to nanocorps, dejobbed small businesses and Small is Good Business Webs with a special focus on solo entrepreneurs and working families in rural and distressed urban communities.

As described in the slide at the top of this page,, in effect, will 'outsource' its requirements for role/actor executable business model technologies to Sohodojo. As this Open Source collaboration platform is developed, business modelers and developers will implement their specific business using this shared technology resource. Any enhancements or extensions that are not business-specific that makes to Sohodojo's Open Source Small Is Good Business Webs platform will be folded back into the core offering that is available to all other platform users.

If you'd like to participate in the TechSIG community, please drop us a note with your ideas and interests.

While the underlying technology we develop will be Open Source, the specific models built can be private and protected. This potential of developing a uniquely protected market position will allow, for example, to kick-start its business web through venture capital investment, if needed.

(Frankly, we hate the idea of software patents. But if the potential to develop them is needed to 'jumpstart' strategic 'Small is Good' business webs... well, we'll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Rather, we are doing everything we can to fund our technology agenda through research sponsorships, not equity investments.)

Currently, we have a collaboration going with C.O.L. Consulting to develop a software requirements specification for web-based project management software. This Open Source project is allowing us to take our first steps in the Role/Organization project-space and Strategy/Vision desktop domains of our 'Small is Good' technology development agenda.

Highly Recommended
Serious Play is a Sohodojo must-read.
Michael Schrage's Serious Play captures the excitement and opportunity of the executable business model approach to system design. Stop thinking 'application' and start thinking 'simulation'. It's a model-driven world for the entrepreneurial free agent!

In July, our TechSIG founded and now hosts The Center for Community Collaboration Technologies to coordinate our involvement in the development of Open Source technologies under our 'Small is Good' Business Web research agenda.

Although our negotiations are currently back-burnered, we've had extended talks with (our A-Team mentor) Tom Malone and his Phios Corporation about getting a research license to The Process Handbook technology developed originally at MIT.

Our goal is to develop and host a Process Handbook knowledgebase of 'Elastic Networking' Best Practices to support the entrepreneurial free agent and 'Small is Good' business web communities. We would like to tightly integrate a Process Handbook Best Practices knowledgebase into our role/actor executable business model platform. We'll keep you posted on the progress of this potentially significant strategic partnership.

Slide text

The Core's 'crown jewels' are the value-chain infrastructure technologies enabling its 'Small is Good' Business Web

  • Built on Open Source Role/Actor executable business model frameworks
  • Specific model 'instances' can be proprietary, even patentable, without tying up the underlying technologies.
  • This R&D agenda will help to raise capital to kick-start the B-Web!

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