Dead Ends & Doors

To survive, we need a deep culture change – one that influences all areas of our individual and collective lives.

And one small, but important, part of this change may be from the proprietary to the open source mindset in creative and business areas. When someone invents or develops something in the proprietary context, it is in many ways a dead end. It stops there, unless someone comes up with large resources to develop it further – and even then, it is often limited by the vision of the few people involved. In the open source mindset, anyone is free to develop and explore any invention further, and invite others in turn to build upon these improvements. It is a collective endeavor for collective benefit, and with as many – or maybe more – opportunities for making money on it. It becomes a door for collective exploration.

The first mindset is one of individualism, protectiveness and scarcity, the other is one of partnership, sharing and abundance. One is from the (in Spiral Dynamics) orange mindset, the other from green and beyond.

One thought to “Dead Ends & Doors”

  1. Open Source is interesting in the context of Turquoise. So is the long tail of consumer demand.

    A few years ago, the following article failed to make headlines, The Long Tail of Consumer Demand. It was lost in the masses of internet hype articles and stock market stupidity. Unlike all of those other stories which were completely forgotten after a few years, this one is referenced today as being the first and most accurate vision of future internet market trends. It defines the “new economy” that everyone misunderstood.

    Another important concept that is required in order to fully understand is “unbundling”. I claim that I coined the term in this context, but many other variations have since been used in the media, so I digress. Unbundling refers selling something that was once sold as a unit in pieces. Ex: selling chapters of books instead of a whole book, individual songs instead of an album, individual articles instead of a magazine or news paper. More on this later.

    In a nutshell, the internet is revolutionizing markets. How? Simple! Small producers, with access to all consumers via the internet, would make a living by selling into a tiny consumer niche with no geographical boundaries. Sounds a bit like democratization of markets, doesn’t it? Some examples you ask! Amazons makes a sizeable chunk of its profits from books with sales volumes that prevent their sale in physical stores. iTunes allows tens of thousands of musicians you’ve never heard of to make a modest living selling songs one at a time over the web (at $0.99 a pop). Everyone in Europe has a cell phone and I haven’t heard the same ring twice.

    Some related news articles from the past few days:
    Blogs distract workers Google restarts online books plan Video Downloads with iTunes 6 Crosses Million Download Mark Amazon to sell chapters of books Internet phone calls on the rise Music trial taps into Bluetooth Making a Living from Your eBay Business

    The “new” economy was misunderstood. Everyone thought the future was in selling over the web, but this is only half the story. The more important part was that the web provides is a link between ALL buyers and ALL sellers, regardless of distance and size. If you’re picturing those commercials depicting a very small Greek wine producer selling into the global market, then your imagination is pointing in the right direction but it needs more streatching yet. You certainly could by commodities over the web! However, the nature of commodities is that they are widely available at a similar price point anywhere in the world.

    Let’s focus instead on specialized goods. You see, given the option, people will ALWAYS seek out what appeals to their own unique tastes. The large producers of books, music albums, movies, documentaries, tv programs, news shows, radio shows, magazines, video games, porn, analysis and research and greeting cards stand to lose the most to the Long Tail. I chose these examples because they also happen to be makers of products that are very easy to digitize and distribute. This is also the reason why these industries were the first to feel the impact of mass copyright infringement. These industries are starting to wake up and realizing that media must be sold on a per use basis in order to make money. Media is big business and getting bigger fast. How big? How fast? Let’s just say that if you used a personal accounting program to calculate the percentage of your income that was sunk into it (in one form or another) this year, you’d probably be shocked at the results. But media is just the beginning.

    I recently bought a suit on the web. Not just any suit, I customized my suit to my specifications before placing the order. The company let me choose from hundreds of colors, threads, buttons, cuffs, pockets, collars and fits. It came in the mail, direct from India; it’s in perfect condition, it fits like a glove, it’s beautiful and it cost only $50. I’m no metrosexual (yet), but I can tell you that I will never, ever, ever by a boring, commoditized, $300 suit from Moores or any other physical store.

    Just picture it for a moment ladies, buying beautiful one of a kind clothing items for half the price you pay in stores. Yes, yes, it’s hard to get things to fit right for your special body type! This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but there are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of ladies out there with exactly your body specifications. All those stores out there that you’ve been buying from cater to only a dozen or so body types. Imagine finding a niche shop that makes clothes ONLY for people like you. Sound impossible! Could there be a place where everything fits, guaranteed? That’s right, you wouldn’t even have to try it on because it was made specifically for you. It has to fit, it will fit. So how big of an industry is clothing? That’s right, bring out the accounting software and check it out. Of course media is already in the game, clothing is just getting started, but let’s look at some bigger fish.


    If you aren’t sure that education is a very big industry, let me tell you this. The Canadian government has calculated the total cost of educating a child born in 2002 will be approximately $400,000 when both private and public expenses are considered.
    The alarm rings 9 o’clock and your twelve year old daughter Sandy enter’s the kitchen to eat breakfast. After she eats her organic Cheerios, she heads for the classroom which is just two rooms away. On the way, she spends a few minutes in the bathroom doing her hair and putting on her favorite school clothes.

    She logs into her first class session. Her dynamic online class schedule has arranged her classes according to her interests and she’s chosen among the tens of thousands of teachers that are accredited in each subject. She wanted to have Bono teach her introductory course in international diplomacy, but you didn’t approve her top pick due to the exhorbidant cost and because you didn’t like U2’s Bloody Sunday lyrics. Instead she is stuck with her second pick, a little known proffessor living in Rural India named Kismaha, who was nominated for a Nobel Prize back in 1978, but didn’t win.

    I takes a few seconds to log in, but pretty soon, she is face to face with Kismaha and two other students, one from Australia and another from Texas. The kids spend a few minutes talking to each other and commenting on each other’s clothing and blog entries. You could only affort two flatscreen monitors for Sandy, so she decided to split the screen such that her lovely Bobby takes up an entire monitor, while the others share the other one.
    Kismaha starts the lesson with a 5 minute video she recorded at a recent UN assembly meeting. She then procedes to answer the children’s questions, using the interactive white board and talking them through the concepts of international border disputes. She explains that Canada and Denmark had decided to donate a disputed North Sea island to Rwanda in order to provide those people with more space.

    After the two hour lesson, the children negociate their homework with Kimaha. Sandy decides to find another example of a border dispute using google and to post a one page blog describing the related issues. Bobby, a forteen year old from Texas decides to research the origins of borders using the Oxford Librarie’s free Online library. Pisma, a gifted eleven year old from Oz decides that she wants to paint a picture of Canada and Denmark, but Kismata decides that this wouldn’t be enough unless she also found three competing definitions of the what is and international border and explained them to the other children the next day. Kismata decides to email each child a personalize tip in order to help them with their assignments.

    After another two similar sessions with different teachers and classmates from around the world, Sandy leaves the house to attend her soccer practice at the local sports club. There, she discusses what she is learning with the other local children and they share notes on favorite teachers. She finds out that Jane Goodall will be doing six two hour sessions on evolution starting next week.

    As soon as she gets home, Sandy takes Jane’s interactive qualification exam, hoping that she’ll be selected for the special sessions. Within a few seconds, Sandy is approved! Excited at the opportunity, she manages to cancel her upcoming history sessional and subcribes to Jane’s instead. Her credits are accumalating fast! At this rate, she’ll qualify for a university level session in anthropology that she’s been dying to complete. She’d already taken an undergrad course in geography taught by a retired Harvard researcher by acing the entrance quiz, but most professors required both credits and testing.

    You decide that one hour of sport is insufficient for Sandy’s person to person interactions, so you decide to convince her that she should attend a pottery course taught by a local aboriginal master. She agrees, but secretly plans to use the class time to give her friend Mike a flirting eye. She’s seen him play voleyball the other day and someone told her that he’s into pottery.


    Just in case you don’t think eduction is big enough, I decided to give a quick glance at what the future of healthcare thanks to the long tail. Healthcare is the biggest industry in the world and is getting bigger fast. Like education it is also unavailable to nearly two billion people in the world because of distances, costs, monopolies and iliteracy.

    As if I wasn’t already doing my part for biodiversity, when I returned home from South Africa in Jan 2009, I noticed that I had a very strange skin irritation that was spreading fast. I quickly logged into my prefered health-care portal and within a few seconds I was face to face with a nurce from the region of SA that I’d just visited. The took one look at the red patches on my bum and decided to recommend a prescription for Bloxokaclyisnly, a new drug that had been developed locally to treat this particular strain of Cape Town Gigger Worm.

    She quickly ran my medical history records and my DNA analysis through the drug manufacturer’s compatibility algorithm. Unfortunately, she’d have to prescribe an less effective version of the drug because the test found that I might be at a high risk for one of the nastier side effects due to my genetics. She asked me to select a local pharmacy for pickup. The estimate was that the drug would arrive in the drug store across the street within 24 hours if I chose to pay the $10 for air mail. Before logging off, the nurse updated my medical history records online and executed a transaction with my medical insurer.

    Within a week, I was rash free! It might have taken months to kill the parasite if I’d used a local doc and the current system. The local doc probably wouldn’t have had the knowledge required to ID the bug! He would probably have prescribed something useless and I would have spent a month itching and spreading it to others.
    The South African nurse was working from her home. She spent two days in the clinic treating patients directly, but also moonlighted as a nurse for hire on the internet. The Apple iNurse agency had been viligent to check her references and accreditations. She could earn twice what she made at the clinic by catering to international patients. She mostly helped people from her own country, especially those in rural areas who couldn’t afford to travel to a clinic, but she’d occationally get hired by a foreigner like me.

    With millions of doctors and nurses (and other medical specialists) working from their home offices, medical diagnosis and treatment will soon be available to billions who currently can’t reach a clinic. The internet, air mail and the Long Tail of Consumer Demand make it possible, natural market forces make it a certainty.

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