.: on the frontiers of venturing and venture investing :.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A crack in the dam - opening a new domain.

It's been in the works for awhile and I now think we're really starting to make a connection between web tech (2.0+), venture investing, social innovation. That connection is going to unleash some tremendous innovations and a surge in the activity directly working on the challenges facing our civilization. It feels like the emergence of a new domain that will take some very different approaches to change and influencing the course of civilization. It seems inspired by open source, technology innovation, financial risk taking, a venturing culture, and now a deepening and deeply felt realization that there are more important tasks to tend to.

I've been digging deeply into this for a while (Venturing on the Frontiers, Open Everything <site>, and The Great Remix) and these two posts (Umair Haque and Fred Wilson) have me feeling that something just shifted. What I love is that this isn't just the same old folks getting into this AND that they are coming at it from an understanding of how systems emerge. Umair uses the language of DNA and Fred is living it through his investment approach in web tech companies.

Maybe what it is, is that all the different groups I've been working/having the conversations with (MaRS, SiG, CSI, Renewal Partners, Communicopia, Causeway, Tides Canada, and Good Capital) are using different language to talk about the same things.

I'm not sure. What do you think? Is this just a personal moment are others sensing that some thing has shifted too?

Friday, June 20, 2008

An open quote from Michael Edwards

Cross posted from my tumblog.

Open: "more radical innovations in ownership and production that change the basis on which markets currently work"

In the conclusion of “Just Another Emperor” by Michael Edwards, he poses the above quote which I think is a great description of what ‘open’ is actually playing at. Full context here: “Philanthrocapitalism offers one way of increasing the social value of the market, but there are other routes that could offer equal or better results in changing the way the economic surplus is produced, distributed and used: the traditional route that uses external pressure, taxation and regulation; the philanthrocapitalist route that changes internal incentives and gives a little more back through foundations and corporate social repsonsibility; and the more radical innovations in ownership and production that change the basis in which markets work. We don’t know which of these routes carries the greatest long term potential, though all of them rely on civil society as a vehicle for innovation, accountability, influence and modified consumption, and especially for getting us from reformist to transformational solutions.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Benevolent dictators in the open movement

One of the interesting things coming out of OPEN everything (Toronto) was the idea that open projects are driven by what we were calling 'benevolent dictators'. That phrase, while abrasive to some, seems to be resonating in a number of different conversations that I and others are having.

What it seems to do is counter the notion that open is a touchy-feely, everyone has to agree, happy place where everyone gets along. At the same time it reinforces the important and evolving role of leadership. What I'm starting to try and tease out is what are the qualities of open leadership that we're really getting at? And which of those are core values - and which are situational reactions?

So far I've been seeing some aspects such as:

  • willingness and authority to make quick decisions based on intuition and sense of purpose and values (the DNA of the project)
  • a relentless focus on near-term goals vs. controlling tasks
  • ability to command/wield social capital vs. financial capital
So what do you think? What are you experiencing? What's different?

Photo credit: invisible consequential

Friday, June 6, 2008

OPEN everything (Toronto) Reflection

The first half-day OPEN everything event happened in Toronto at the Centre for Social Innovation on Wednesday and was a great start to what's going to be a very interesting series. Mark Surman - the mastermind of the series - opened the agenda and launched the group into an exploration of what 'open' is and what are the underlying principles.

I twittered some of my observations on the day and have a running tag which is going to capture the ongoing conversation (#openeverything). Some of the highlights for me were:

  • social capital is the key currency - more important than financial capital
  • leadership is essential and often looks like a benevolent dictator
  • control is of priorities rather than tasks
  • purpose and values are more powerful than strategy and logic
  • it's better to graft on to an existing community than try and create a new one
  • open projects need to be big to be able to absorb the capacity of the community
  • open isn't new (1 example was from the 17th and 18th centuries)
That last point helps also to remind me that this is part of our ongoing nature and evolution - and part of the Great Remix. What we are seeing as expressions of open now are necessarily coloured by the context of our society today. Clearly. So what will be interesting as we go forward with this is what are the essential enduring principles? What's the heart of open? How do we kick-it up to kick-up the pace of our evolution to a just and sustaianble state? Fun.

Thanks to Mark, Tonya and everyone who participated. We're on to something here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

OpenEverything opens today!

Well, it was only a few months ago when Jason Mogus, Mark Surman and I chatted on this concept of the event series that is now underway. It started as an exploration as to a new Web Of Change event at Hollyhock this year and Mark has taken it to what is going to be an amazing series that is going to push our thinking and the thinking of the 'open' community even further.

For more information, check out Mark's opening post here, and the openeverything wiki.

Today, Toronto kicks off Open Everything: a global series of six (or more?) events about the art, science and spirit of open. We've got 60 amazing people registered who come from computer programming, community development and everywhere in between. It's gonna rock.
There are going to be a few bloggers and hopefully a few twitters going live today and putting their follow-up thoughts out shortly thereafter... and I'll do my best to link to them as they come available.