Archive for February, 2009

Lawrence Lessig on the hybrid economy

February 25, 2009

We’ve been seeing an emergence of the Sharing Economy such as community kitchens – but this is now starting to combine with commercial value to create a Hybrid Economy i.e. Loop baby clothes exchange in Acton.  As resources get more scarce we need to maximise the utilisation of existing assets – from how we are programming public and community spaces to collective use-frameworks such as car-shares i.e. we can get to use a car but we don’t all need to own one.

These ideas basically work by aggregating demand and orchestrating use in response – creating a new Hybrid Economy which operates across both a sharing and commercial remit. While many of these ideas aren’t altogether new – their potential role in the new socio-economy could be vast and understanding their real blended value [social, economic and environmental] will not be expressed purely in terms of company turnover.


with John Podesta on Feb 25, 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Charlie Rose – Lawrence Lessig on th…“, posted with vodpod


New demand for allotments

February 25, 2009

The demand for Allotments is going up in line with food price increases but also a wider shift in peoples values as the intrinsic value of production as opposed to a purely consumptive model gains traction. This might be a good chance for local authorities to manage some of the ongoing costs associated with under used green space – by giving it a programmatic purpose and an active community of custodians…


Time for some new social norms

February 25, 2009

Instead of a lavish launch party Armani opted to give a sizeable donation to charity to mark the opening of his flagship New York store – sure its a traditional CSR route, it’ll appease consumers and get some good press but maybe more then this it shows that we have a chance to re-understand social norms and how they come about in a wider sense.


Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store

February 19, 2009


The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store is a front orchestrated by 826NYC, a non-profit organisation that exists to encourage children to write creatively and to inspire teachers to encourage this further.

Within the shop is located a secret door that leads to an area filled up with reading and learning opportunities dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills. 

This appears to be an exceptionally good example of an environment that serves a wonderful idea that combines community interaction with learning and a sense of intrigue and imagination. I recommend you watch the video on their website:


The New Liberal Arts

February 11, 2009

There is an interesting conversation on what the new liberal arts should be on the Snarkmarket blog.

It’s 2009. A generation of digital natives is careening towards college. The economy is rebooting itself weekly. We have new responsibilities now — as employees, citizens, and friends — and we have new capabilities, too. The new liberal arts equip us for a world like this. But… what are they?

I would suggest that three disciplines are of paramount importance:

  1. Economics, the study of resource management, from home economics to global financial markets.
  2. Algorithmics, the study of process, causality, and complex systems, including modelling, forecasting, and optimisation.
  3. Politics, the art of communication, compromise, instigation, and implementation in the context of group dynamics.


“Make Poverty History : pay your taxes”

February 9, 2009

“Domestic tax is a more sustainable way of funding development than aid, and is at the heart of the relationship between a government and voters. Aid tends to undermine that relationship, encouraging governments to manage outwards to their donors, not down to their citizens. It may be a distant prospect for many poor countries, but it is a necessary precondition for a healthy democracy. Unless the global community cleans up its own act, its support for the millennium development goals will be so much failed window dressing. Make poverty history: pay your taxes.” [Guardian]


STOP ROBBING US (support early day motion 665)

February 5, 2009

Support early day motion 665

“…notes with concern the National Audit Office’s finding that in 2006 more than 60 per cent. of Britain’s 700 biggest companies paid less than £10 million corporation tax and 30 per cent. paid nothing; regards companies in the FTSE 100 and others indulging in this highly addictive practice as guilty of corporate malfeasance; seriously regrets that families and small to medium-sized businesses continue to plug this gap through disproportionately higher taxes…”  [Guardian]

There has been increasing media coverage of tax avoidance practices by large corporations that highlights the disproportionate contributions of some of the largest (and profitable) companies that operate in the UK  – taking advantage of the infrastructures, ability to attract talent to the alllure of living in London, but who are siphoning profit via complex restructuring techniques to tax havens (Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Jersey to name a few).

One example in today’s Guardian is Walkers. In short, since 1998, Walkers (owned by US corporate Pepsico) has “restructured” Walkers so that a majority of its profits never come to the UK, therfore avoiding the tax man. This has resulted in a shortfall in contributions of almost £20m each year. Think about it – if Walkers are paying £20m less – the government has less money to spend.

The tax authorities in many countries have struggled to keep apace with these manipulations of the system. It is argued that all these companies are operating lawfully – but how is it right that most small – average scale UK businesses pay 20% corporation tax with money made in the UK being ploughed back into that same infrastructure it relies on, whereas some large corporations are able to put the same (or more) pressure on that system but avoid contributing towards its upkeep?

So perhaps the answer is to vote with your wallet. Do we want to see our money being siphoned off to these tax havens? Its time to stop buying products made by companies that are not paying their fair share. Its time to be responsible about how we spend and how we buy.


smart growth…

February 4, 2009

“20th century growth was dumb. …Dumb growth is unsustainable – if the world grows the same way that developed countries did, well, there won’t be a world…. 21st century economies will be powered by smart growth. Not all growth is created equal. Some kinds of growth are more valuable than others.”

Haque talks about smart growth being founded on 4 pillars:

1. Outcomes, not income.

2. Connections, not transactions.

3. People, not product.

4. Creativity, not productivity.

I would question – is it smart growth (a caring sharing driven society) or should there be a fundamental questioning of our understanding/need for “growth”? Perhaps the questions that should be driving us are equality, stability, cohesion? Innovation to drive productivity from a grass roots/entrepreneurial source versus productivity in a top down hierarchical format are just differing ways to churn growth, albeit “green” growth or “unethical” growth. Should there be a re-understanding of our value systems and whether growth in the form that it is currently understood is still valid? Should innovation today be concnetrated on unlocking new systems/vehicles to measure and exchange those intangible values of community, well being, cohesion etc which to date have been exchanged for the “outcomes not incomes” Haque refers to? Is it possible to grow business models and social contracts that enable a more valid, sustainable and equitable forms of exchange.


Yesterday:London turned upside down by the snow

February 3, 2009

seeing the world differently



February 1, 2009


Incredible talk by mycologist Paul Stamets on how mycelium fungus could potentially save the world: