We live in a time of contradictions. Take the New York Stock Exchange, the leading stock exchange of the world, trading approximately 1.46 billion shares each day. In 2015 it reached an all time high. Economic centers like New York and California prospered as ever before, however the number of homeless people in these states rose also to an all time high too. 20% of all homeless people in the US live in those states.
In the last decade my home country The Netherlands, rose steadily to become, after Luxemburg, the second most prosperous country of the European Union. In the same period the number of Dutch people in need of welfare food support rose with an annual average of 25%.
In 2014 the US financial policymakers slowed down the program of buying up mortgage-backed loans and state bonds, by which they took so far $85 billion out of the market monthly to keep the US economy alive. US policy makers realize that they can’t keep going like this. However they are happily replaced by Japan, where the Abenomics policy, a portmanteau of the Japanese Prime minister ‘Abe’ and ‘economics’, creates a never seen before waterfall of money being poured into the Japanese economy.
Thanks to the Internet we can work anywhere in the world, on any physical location, as long as we are connected. Still we see more people leaving the countryside and cluster in mega-cities. Traditional organizations and companies are struggling to survive and are desperately searching for their ‘raison d’être’, where groups of connected people, often local initiatives, seems to thrive in creating sustainable economic value. Words like ‘sharing economy’ or ‘collaborative economy’ keep popping up.
The list of contradictions is endless. Some developments feel ‘right’, other feel outright ‘wrong’. We are experiencing a transitional era, in which we are moving from the industrial based society of last century towards something new. The Dutch Professor Jan Rotmans states in his latest book ‘Nederland Kantelt’: “We don’t live in an era of changes, we are living in a changing era”. This era of transition can easily be compared with the Industrial Revolution. The invention and improvement of the steam engine between 1700 and 1770, caused in the 18th and 19th century a widespread replacement of manual labor by new inventions or machinery, causing the social-economical transition from an agricultural society to an industrial society. This had an enormous impact on almost every citizen of this world. During this revolution we reinvented every system we know, from our democratic- to our educational systems, from our organization systems with its economic models to our financial systems and from our country- and city development systems to a global power shift, with world wars in its wake.
Now we even don’t have 200 years for our revolution. Internet is our contemporary steam engine, causing time to speed up, so we have to transfer our whole system within a mere 50 years. On top of our Internet with its social media, don’t underestimate the influence of the scientific developments in fields like Bioscience, 3D printing, Nanotechnology and Robotics. Even our software design is leading to artificial intelligence and is creating even more dynamics. Over the past 25 years this new Society30 has become slowly visible and is really shaping itself for another 25 years. So far this has not been an easy process and yet the worst is still to come. According to thought leader and social economist Carlota Perez it is still possible that whole regions will be destroyed economically; unemployment may rise quickly; and, in general terms, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Over the past years we have seen the rise of the disruptive low cost carriers like Blue Air, Southwest Airlines, Ryanair, and EasyJet turning the airline industry upside down. With a 55% market share (and still growing) on internal European flights, these airlines have become sizable players, pushing the traditional carriers out of their comfort zone and out of the market. The entire sales system of these parties runs through the Web, leaving the traditional middlemen, such as travel agents, on the sidelines. Holding meetings at physical locations, like libraries, empty offices, town halls and in private homes (as coordinated by my own Seats2meet.com) will be the deathblow for the conference rooms in traditional hotels. In addition, hotels have formidable competition from couch-surfing: staying over, free of charge, at the home of somebody you have met via the social Web. Through Couchsurfing.com, there are over 20,000 free beds available in The Netherlands alone. Globally there are over 7 million beds available on this website. And then there is Airbnb, presently the largest hotel chain in the world without owning and/or operating one single hotel. Of course a platform like Airbnb is traditionally financed by venture- and public capital. The short-term shareholder interest will prevail the more long-term participating sharing-fan interest. This way these platforms are not sustainable, but they are useful in breaking up the establishment: Schumpeter’s creative destruction in optima forma.
We have seen the music- and movie industry change and many publishing- and technology companies going under. The transportation markets with its disruptive Uber.com will change, where banks and other financial institutions (disruption factors: micro-payments, Bitcoins, crowd-funding) as well as insurance companies (self driving cars don’t crash) are the next in line. And if the sharing economy, using social capital (value creation outside the tax system) as its currency really takes off, government financial money streams will evaporate. In the end even the government with its country, as an economic entity will lose its power.
Our legislators don’t know what to make of it – are these new players commercial bed and breakfast and taxi ventures, or aren’t they not? Criticism is uttered as wages on some of these platforms are extremely low and user/workers protection is almost non-existent. The establishment complains and government officials start fining expeditions. Useless. There is a complete lack of oversight. And there is undercurrent, an unstoppable social development, which is opening up an ever-widening road to Society30.
Due to the Internet we have global access to goods, services, people and knowledge, so there is abundance in our economy instead of scarcity. In my book Society30 I introduce a new economic system, called the Interdependent Economy as our new playing field for economic value creation. It is a playing field where we will have to mobilize ourselves to find solutions together. Everybody’s involvement is an absolute condition for this. The personal is global. We are deeply dependent on each other. We can call it a new form of collectivity and solidarity, but it is a solidarity driven by choice, and not imposed by government or any other ruling class. It is a playing field where connectivity, sustainability, and reciprocity are the most important rules of play. Groups of connected people start to interact, creating a value network. Groups of value networks, or value constellations, will replace traditional value chains. According to Jeremiah Owyang, founder of the US based Crowd Companies: “People are bypassing companies by sharing goods, services, space, and money with each other in the sharing economy. They’re also empowered to build their own goods in the maker movement by crowd funding, tapping global marketplaces, and preparing to accelerate this with 3D printing. The crowd, is starting to become like a company: self-financing, self-designing products, self-manufacturing, self-selling to each other – bypassing inefficient corporations in the process.”
Value creation conveyed in ‘capital’ does not just mean money for the Society30 citizen in the Interdependent Economy. Capital is made up of social capital, the combined transactional value systems (money in the classic sense), and the alternative value systems (or local currency). In this mix of ingredients, reciprocity is much easier, and naturally realized.
So our future is all about connecting and meeting people, building trust and collaborate in social networks. Most of these networks are like mini-circular economic systems in themselves. Acting from abundance, social capital, reciprocity, and trust complements the traditional monetary systems.
In his book, Civilizing Process, Norbert Elias describes the increasing complexity of our society and the appeal that this complexity makes to people. Elias published his theories in the Interbellum (the period between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II), a turbulent era. He believed there is a parallel between the increasing complexity of society and the increase in and condensing of networks in which people belong. He states that networks will interweave emphatically, both nationally and internationally. And, these networks will connect between themselves, too. Elias calls this “figuration,” and these groups have an external, as well as internal, dynamic. Elias named the external dynamic the socio-genesis: an increasing number of connected networks create a greater cohesion of everything with everything. The internal dynamic, the psycho-genesis, concerns self-analysis and self-knowledge, and refers to the place in a network in which one is assigned.
Suppose you invite someone to enter a community you belong to personally, like Seats2meet.com. The unique value that person will add, such as knowledge, authenticity, skills, or a membership to other networks or communities, for example, will give that person and you a (new) position in that network.
Taking part in these configurations requires the individual learning capacity to occupy a place from within. This person requires adaptability, creativity, and self-knowledge. Self-knowledge leads to development of one’s own autonomy, and this leads to self-management. This is when people follow the road to authenticity: the capacity to freely chose from within what information, or which community, to connect with (or not). To optimize this personal development process, followed by the step into and participation within value creation networks as a connected Society30 citizen, the Seats2meet.com ecosystem can play a vital role. After all Seats2meet is about the search for the best in people, their organizations and/or networks, and the relevant world around them.