When interviewed about the roots of the new “Open Source Economy”, I refer back to the 1970’s intuitions of then futurist Alvin Toffler, author of truly visionary books such as the “Future Shock” (note the 70’s influence of the cover;) or the “Third wave“. Toffler saw coming some of the profound mutations of our era and in particular the fact that we would migrate from a world where industry meant power to one where knowledge would become the new currency. The explosion of technologies (the internet of course, but biotechnology, nanotechnology and many others) weaving links of inter-dependencies with the globalization phenomenon soon became a very powerful trigger and accelerator to Toffler’s intuition. Then geeks, techies and other idealists nerds launched a marginal trend, coined today as “Wikinomics“: It started with Linux, Apache, followed by Napster, Limewire and continues today with numerous others of which Wikipedia is probably the most famous. The combination of these cost dearly to some industries in full denial (record industry, movie industry, traditional TV channels, newspapers, book industry…)
However, I also always add that another event is going to have long lasting and unpredictable consequences: the betrayal of the “real economy” by a marginal although very powerful part of the banking sector, which became visible in 2008 and from which we are still suffering today (commentators and critics of the governments forgetting rapidly that, if nations are so deeply into debts today, it was partially to save the financial sector from collapsing).
I had an unforgettable dinner with a CEO in August and he shared that he had made it a point, during his Summer holiday in Spain, to go and observe/understand the “Indignados” movement: “It was simply wonderful Didier! Finally people are back into owning politics and the “res publiqua”. I thought I wasn’t ever going to see this again”… And soon after emerged the now famous “Occupy Wall Street” movement (for those who are on Facebook here is their “official” page)… From twenty person at the start, they became twenty thousand in a few weeks. I don’t know what will become of such a movement who has strong leadership but no official leaders, has clear suggestions but no demands, lives through emerging principles but has no values statement, but it will mark its time. It is my advice for those of us “scanning the periphery” in order to prepare for the future, to try and analyze what it means, how it emerged and how it will continue to exist.
To help those who haven’t yet had the chance to start exploring what may be at play behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, here are two articles of the New-York Times that I found rather well written about the movement: one from a strong supporter (2008 Nobel Prize laureate for Economics, Paul Krugman) and the other from a less enthusiastic person, Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University (someone who obviously has not listened very carefully to to the messages of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators but makes nevertheless a very good point: Occupy Wall Street is not about the end of capitalism, it is about going back to the true values and ethics of work).
I hope this will be helpful. Have a great week all… Mine will be in Oslo and as always São-Paulo was an outstanding source of inspiration…