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June 8, 2010

Message to Venessa Miemis about her "Pay It Forward Business Model"

Venessa Miemis.jpgVenessa wrote a fascinating blog entry  on

"A Pay It Forward Business Model [in transition to a new global society]."

It prompted the following open message to her.


Dear Venessa,

Your "pay it forward" model is hugely inspiring in all of the various scope of its meaning! 

I start responding from the one that is the juiciest for me, the scope of our Emerging Planetary Reality.  We're in the midst of a world transition that still has to generate highly-scalable practices of value creation and exchange beyond the logic of the incumbent mode of production. I see your quest in the context of that larger one.

As Scott Lewis  wrote: "In regards to the gift economy, I don’t think we’ve ever been without it." True, it persisted throughout human history but largely as an under current of economic activity. Now it is stepping into history's limelight a second time.

This time, it comes with a mission: to help freeing the energies of our individual and social creativity, intuition, caring, and imagination, trapped in work systems that don't honor our highest aspirations. Only liberating those energies, will Emergence gain enough momentum to lift us into the next civilization.  (Here, "next" means: capable to operate at a higher level of complexity and harmony.) The value of your offer to the world, at that level, is in its contribution to that liberation. It's like "a small step for Venessa, one giant leap for mankind." :-)
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January 27, 2008

CI through the "political economy" lens

What was "collective intelligence" in the cognitive and evolutionary contexts, becomes "general intellect," in the language of political economy. The difference is not only semantic. The general intellect embodied in the collective knowing of the society, embedded in all the ways of its knowing, has always been a force that shaped the creative capacities and daily life of people and organizations.

"Marx suggested that at a certain point in the development of capital... the crucial factor in production will become the ‘development of the general powers of the human head’; ‘general social knowledge’; social intellect; or, in a striking metaphor, the 'general productive forces of the social brain’." (Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High Technology Capitalism, by Nick Dyer-Witheford, 1999)

A more attentive reading of Marx' Grundrisse, his notes for Das Kapital that were published after his death, reveals that there is more than the social intellect, more than the gifts of the social brain that flow into our general intellect.

"General Intellect consists in a number of competences that are inscribed in the social environment organized by capitalist machinery, and hence available freely to its participants, by virtue of their existence as ‘social individuals’. These competences can be cognitive, as in technical or scientific knowledge, but they are also social and affective..." (Ethics and General Intellect, in Ethical Economy, by Adam Arvidsson, 2006)

Diving into the far-reaching implications of Arvidsson's statement is food for future thought. For now, we share a few quotes from Empire, which may illuminate the portent of this issue. "The danger of discourse of general intellect is that it risks remaining entirely on the same plan of thought, as if the new powers of labor were only intellectual and not also corporeal… As we saw earlier, new forces and new positions of affective labor characterize labor power as much as intellectual labor does.” (Empire, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, 2001)

Avoiding the danger of conceiving "general intellect" as something only intellectual is what Lazzarato accomplished (in "General Intellect: towards an inquiry into immaterial labour", Common Sense #22, 1996), by strengthening his analysis with a few relevant passages of the Grundrisse. A key component of Lazzarato's concept of "immaterial labour" is what he, Negri and other authors of the Italian-French "autonomist" school of thought described in Multitudes magazine. They refer to it as "affective labour." That distinction opened a whole new domain of inquiry where political economy and social psychology overlap.

What happens when we apply the "general intellect" lens to realize a fuller meaning of "collective intelligence?" It gives us access to CI in the long view, the broad sweeps of social evolution, past and future included.

Visualizing that long view as the vertical plane, we can add "collective intelligence" as the horizontal axis. In that sense, CI is the ensemble of capabilities, knowledge, and tools available to a collective entity, in the given stage of its evolution, for creating its desired future.

The spiral that is expanding from the point where the vertical and horizontal planes intersect, is driven by the co-evolutionary dynamics that plays in the macro/micro and global/local scales of CI.

(Excerpt from my Working Paper on Collective Intelligece and Collective Leadership)

August 21, 2006

Gartner and the economic imperative of collective intelligence

InformationWeek reports that Gartner Inc. "identified the technologies it believes will have the greatest impact on businesses over the next 10 years, naming such hot areas as social-network analysis, collective intelligence, location-aware applications and event-driven architectures… Collective intelligence was rated as potentially transformational to businesses… Collective intelligence was defined as an approach to developing intellectual content, such as code and documents, through individuals working together with no centralized authority. 'This is seen as a more cost-efficient way of producing content, metadata, software and certain services,' Gartner said, adding that the approach is expected to go mainstream in five to 10 years… Working within a wide community to achieve common goals will be embraced by businesses within five to 10 years, predicted Gartner."

Out from the long report, bloggers who are tuned with the Zeitgeist picked up the most intriguing sign of our times and welcomed it under booming headlines, such as "Gartner predicts shift to collective intelligence," "Gartner Lauds Collective Intelligence," "Gartner predicts: Productivity will increase from Collective Intelligence," etc…

I don’t want to rain on Gartner's parade of "discovering" CI; all of us in the CI community can benefit from by the field being blessed by prestigious industry pundits. But "mainstream in 5 to 10 years?" Come on, how about now? How else could businesses achieve common goals than "working within a wide community," sometimes also called a "business ecosystem" or "business web?" CI is not a pipedream of visionary leaders anymore but the daily reality of millions of organizations. The questions is not "whether," not even "when" but "how," i.e. how good is our CI, do we have only sustainable advantage, knowing how to collaborate more smoothly, more effectively, and having more fun doing so?

June 20, 2006

CI in the transcendence of private property

"Private property of the means of production today, in the era of the hegemony of cooperative and immaterial labour, is only a putrid and tyrannical obsolescence. The tools of production tend to be recomposed in collective subjectivity and in the collective intelligence and affect of the workers; entrepreneurship tends to be organised by the cooperation of subjects in [the] general intellect. … The multitude is biopolitical self-organisation." Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire, pages 410-411.

May 30, 2004

The challenge of co-intelligent economy

In his comment on the entry about Is self-awareness a requirement for CI?, Tom Atlee called our attention to something that's a truly foundational condition of boosting the CI of large social systems.

His perspective is also essential to further the inquiry into the concept of evolutionary threshold that we opened last month with the entry on How would we know, we reached tipping point? (After reading Tom's passionate call below, you may want to loop back to the "tipping point" entry to get a sense of yet another context in this network of CI conversations, to which his idea is highly pertinent.) Tom Atlee wrote:

I'd like to see greater understanding, application, and nurturance of ALL dimensions and types of collective intelligence -- even such mundane factors as designing economic measures of success such that the self-organizing market dynamics that get motivated by those measures (and the rewards associated with them) automatically generate outcomes that serve the quality of life of all who live within that economic system.

Whose intelligence is expressed by the "self-organizing market dynamics" that Tom refers to?

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