Thinking out loud, in conversation with AM.

Great dialogue with Alan Mitchell off-line prompted some really hard questions. I'm lobbing my self-questioning down her...

February 9, 2005

Great dialogue with Alan Mitchell off-line prompted some really hard questions. I’m lobbing my self-questioning down here so I don’t lose it…

“What I am trying to do here, in scraps and fragmented, is not to describe a social phenomenon, but to descibe what ‘should’ be. It’s a manifesto. But a manifesto which I believe is grounded in observable reality.

It is also a manifesto that I believe ‘must be’. It responds to a multiple dialectic of shifting power, of diminishing resources and of converging human needs.

I totally believe that buyer-centricity is coming to pass right now. In fact, I assume it.

In Alan Mitchell’s language, the ‘pivot point’ around which the market moves is increasingly the individual. The ‘pinch points’ in the system (the constrained resources) are speed and agility of corporate response. It is entirely possible that new technology will enable such incredibly fast assembling, disassembling and reassembling of experiences that a buyer-centric world will come to pass.

As everything unbundles, though, including these corporations, into their constituent human elements, we are faced with a multiplicity of options for personal fulfilment. In a market economy, we will choose agents of fulfilment who will work within new emergent clusters which are configured in new and wierd ways.

We will choose on increasingly personal and idiosycratic criteria. New value-niches will emerge. This is just adaptive marketing. This is the individual revolution, in the language of Richard Duvall, founder of Zopa.

As companies increasingly flatten and unbundle to meet these new clusters of individual need, they will collaborate flexibly, openly and accountably with partners. Co-creation in action.
Buyer centric commerce and co-creation are two sides of the same coin to me. They are the third way of capitalism. Capitalism 2.0. More responsive. More personal.

BUT, my question (mostly to myself) is…is a buyer-centric/co-creative future actually any more sustainable? And do I actually want it? And would we collectively want it, if we could see 20, 50 or 100 years out.

Are demand-chains actually any better than supply-chains? On what criteria?

Do they optimise the value within ‘the system’.

Actually, are they, on some arguments, worse? That’s all I’m trying to explore. that’s y journey. I believe they can be improved upon by mutual marketing, but I have no clear answers, just a few shadows.

I think a key to unlock this is to think VERY hard about the nature of value.

There is a prevailing assumption that says resources are infinite but value is somehow constrained. Both are commonly denominated – in $. This undelies the ‘trading’ mindset as presently configured.

Mutual Marketing, by contrast, says that resources are finite, and diminishing. Value is infinite. They are both infinitely and instrumentally denominated in terms of ‘me’ and ‘us’. i.e. there are psychological and sociological currencies at work in our values system, which money cannot fathom.

The question re value is:

Q. Who are its agents?
Q. How is it denominated?
Q. Who controls it?
Q. How is it created?
Q. How is it destoyed?
Q. How long does it last?

How do we best configure around needs? In my ‘book’, you try and create a system whereby needs can be met with as little friction as possible. Where value-currencies can be freely converted.

How do we account for generosity? Even when I give something away to a charity shop, I am actually trading: e.g. ‘sunk costs’, fully written down in ME plc, against present pleasure. Actually I am manufacturing value from nothing. How do I account for this in the monolithic capitalist system.

How we manage information? Does anyone actually own it? This is almost just a question of belief and definition. Ownership relies upon the ability to extract a price for an asset. Without ownership you could argue that we are information-slaves.

Equally, the way out of slavery is to give your information away. To use it to create social value….’information is theft’ perhaps. Dunno.”

That’s enough of that, for now. More to ponder.

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