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I have been playing with different formats to explain what ecological economics is about. Here’s the latest:
You get to hear the speaker, in this case Michael, as well as read my response. It seems to be similar in format to jaxing, where we align as listeners. Something like this exists during live conferences, where people have muted conversation on twitter for example.
Along similar lines, I have been experimenting with capturing live writing, as well as being sensitive to the live reader, for example:
Other experiments have involved producing slideshows, eg:
After an interesting conversation with the rather remarkable Tudor Tarlev, I am encouraged to produce explanations for different people. A few slides, a short video. For graduates, fathers, financial experts, and so on.
Second iteration has gone relatively well. Though connection to Gerald Walker at Bloomberg Ventures has been lost (and he was the first person I met after 25th April’s birthing), and Robert Bennet at Haringey Adult Education seems to be a little lacklustre, I have had a series of engagements with people which have been rather exciting. Consequently I feel I am getting better at articulating what I am up to across a range of sectors and framing the particular aspects of ecological economics.
high quality engagements
The primary vector is in the marketing and advertising industry. Spoke to The Future Factory, who appear to be playing around with similar business methodologies — they broker the relationship between agencies and new clients. They approach new clients to find out more accurately what problems they face, and they then translate this to their agency in order to produce a bespoke campaign. That is, they occupy the boundary between these companies. Dan at the Future Factory couldn’t quite see what ecological economics was, and did not see the benefit of my observation that they should not be attached to particular agencies, but instead broker relationships between clients and agencies, suiting up appropriate parties responsively — that is, strategically occupying the middle ground rather than as an extension of a specific agency. The reason for their current set-up, of course, is that they are paid by the agency thus deriving financial security.
Had two points of contact with Z/Yen, a financial sector think tank and consultancy. Michael Mainelli was generous and warm, and we mostly focussed on his book The Price of Fish which had some remarkable insights around the financial mensuration of environmental responsibility, something they call Long Finance, and many interesting if not awkward questions eg how government should start thinking about deriving tax from internet traffic, ie tax? In the end, I was only able to hint at ecological economics, and I really wanted to pass on Pam’s observation of mttp as a time-machine — what happens to relationships and money at the “top end” of mttp when we are dealing with eg £100m for a millennium — surely this was Long Finance at its finest? But I am not practiced with standard freelance work practices, which essentially boils down to “look out for your own”, and so his offer to keep me in the loop by inviting me to events is nice but does not further things directly. One day I shall be faced with the problem Michael faced with me, which manifests as a reluctance to actually examine new things; this takes time and effort, and essentially, is a complex task if done responsibly.
The conversation with Nick from Z/Yen was totally different, with an argument ensuing towards the end. It came down to a straight confrontation — what do you do when faced with something you do not understand? Dismiss it, or examine it? I said I required people to seriously engage with it, for the first people who do will be ahead of the game. They will be trend-setters, the first in a new field of economics. Nick said he would look at it in August with the potential — should the subjective-enumeration-
In Edinburgh, I had a second engagement with Ken Dixon from Newhaven, a creative agency, and it went very well. We talked a little about where I was with ecological economics, more specifically about the state of virals, and then offered a specific idea which he liked a lot. We talked about money and he said he would talk to his partners the following day. If the idea generates significant moneyflow, it shall be the first, and how appropriate since the idea emerged between Harriet and myself when we were considering Amber — the inspiration for ecological economics in the first place! One can’t write this material — it’s got to be lived! But… he has not got back to me over the following week, but I put this down to crap virtual engagement — our real world engagement is strong. I also spoke to a couple of other agencies, one of whom was willing to meet without even an email or site visit; the words that caught him were “shifting from company push to client pull”. Another very interesting, high quality engagement, even though I admit I am only a visitor to their industry and I do not wish to take over a position in their company or compete against them as another creative company. I feel confident I can do this with London ad agencies in September, if there is a need.
Also had a very high quality engagement with Sarah Deas, chairperson of Co-operative Development Scotland. Framing this conversation was quite a trick, and I think we did pretty well. I made it plain that the problem with the entrepreneurial scene is noise, and the tendency for the money to follow the “talkers” and those who can fit the tender-commissioning process best. All that I asked for was that what I presented and who I was had enough quality to justify further engagement, specifically an invitation to meet with others to test the protocols and algorithms. I feel confident about speaking to executives, individuals in positions elevated enough to be able to see the bigger picture. Usually such people can not bring themselves to look at small scale investments and projects, because they are essentially employed to make decisions about the whole organisation, which involves millions of pounds. The scalability of traditional business is built into the hierarchical structure which is static (at least people hold positions for years, and roles often last for decades), which means that sensitivity to present conditions, receptivity and responsivity is sluggish.
Had useful engagements with Dug, a lawyer who is diving into the entrepreneurial world after just conducting an mba, Lynne and her friend’s children who are graduates, and Sofia and Mamading of London Creative Labs — who actually use action cycles in their programme. The potential for graduate “training” in ecological economics, generating revenue as they go along, is high. A good way forwards is to anchor it to some council service, eg Haringey or Lambeth, offer a scalable accreditation system of collaborative entrepreneurialism, employing Mozilla Open Badges technology. The money comes not from the council, but from the companies we produce value for, which results in greater revenue for them. I’ve touched base with Darius of the Spring Project, and we hope to connect at the end of August.
five strategic fronts
So, there are five fronts to ecological economics right now. First and foremost is the engagement with the ad and marketing industry by way of selling ideas or “adverts”, the potential methodology of aligning to genuine social viral movements to be mutually beneficial for social artists, companies, and social services, and leading to macropatronage, a real game changer. This hangs on my engagement with Ken, Craig, and any other ad agency guru that can make use of my services. Objective: sell a couple of ideas, see them being implemented, and accumulating value in terms of the agency itself, specifically quality product/service improvement and new revenue generation; this translates as mttp contract of £100-day per week or £1k-week per season.
Second is the grounding of the financial protocols by professionals, especially getting the stamp of approval from Michael with respect to his Long Finance enterprise. This mostly hangs on my engagement with Nick and Michael and their connections. I have also started to connect with Michael from Nesta. Objective: serious examination, feasibility funding, introduction to high level players; this translates as mttp contract of £100-day per week or £1k-week per season.
Third is the graduate program, which involves attracting switched on people to actively pick up the ecological economics business methodology and implementing it directly. That is, a few people coallesce around specific gems, and turn them into revenue in ludicrously short periods of time. This hangs on Lynne, a genuine entrepreneur rather than a book-read or theory-driven one, and London Creative Labs, and perhaps Robert at Harringey, and Darius of the Spring graduate programme. I’ve tentatively named this the “Up-Grad”. Objective: scalable accreditation program implemented in council and at entrepreneurial hubs, attracting graduates and otherwise who are trying to find jobs; this translates as £100-day per week depending on third party investment.
Fourth is executive engagement. It is important I get meetings with individuals with high enough elevation to get the ideas and myself on the radar; as far as I can tell, they are in a position of being able to see the global landscape currently and over the next decade or so. Thinking of chairs of organisations like Nesta, Unltd, Boris the Mayor, Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Tesco Head, etc. Objective: initial meeting facilitated by results in the field, followed up by high level action cycle with a final long term objective of seeing sea and mttp implemented by google; this translates as £100-day per week by locating the various ecological economics initiatives in their respective geolocations.
Fifth, is the actual network, which we can call confluence collective, of everyone participating to generate moneyflow. This includes the graduates, unemployed, self-employed, adult-learners, hub-members, and everyone who is starting to adopt mttp and dmp financial protocols as a collective. This means that the tracking of money flow must be sorted out, something a little better than the google docs I have set up so far. Objective: revenue generation from converting ecosquared gems ploughed into people who can improve the actual logistics of ecological economics; translated as dmp in the order of £100 per week.
I need to secure moneyflow. From any one of the fronts mentioned above. This is imperative. The value is obvious now, money should start to flow, which means a corresponding increase in implementation so we can make some headway towards some of the more lofty ecological economics mechanisms such as macropatronage — which promises to be a real game changer in social media and business. But we need evidence now.
These current iterations follow from the birthing event on the 25th April 2012, since I am working on ecosquared full time. I can see a third iteration which needs to generate moneyflow and palpable value during september. Whether this works or not, I do intend to write up ecological economics as a book. I had hoped to write up a descriptive account during August but an environment with children is not conducive to considered thinking and contemplative writing. I then wanted to embark upon a more narrative account, a partial fictionalisation of what has happened and projecting the ideas as they may manifest over the next few years. I am setting myself a year to write this.
And a parting thought. I met Gerald from ball of dirt during the birthing period of ecosquared back in April, and he re-entered my mind recently. I had created a website in 2009 called takingthestand.org which was an attempt to seed the idea of going to eg Maldives and offering our futurist processes — if there is a need for solutions anywhere in the world, it is on islands which are threatened by flooding due to global glacial melt. It is the first time I have revisited the idea, and now equipped with financial protocols, I’d like to see if Gerald can see the potential for this. Anyone fancy a working holiday on the Maldives for a year…?
A few observations which seem to evolve from the money-time-trust-protocol quite naturally: Time Trust, demurrage, the “problem” when two givers meet, and sourcing the origins of giving.
Of course we should not be surprised that someone came up with Time Banks. In fact it was a chap called Dr Edgar Cahn during the 1980’s.
Ecological economics began with the financial handshake that turned out to be called mttp — money-time-trust-protocol, and over the months, awareness reveals some more qualities of its fractal structure. We have already mentioned moneyflow and the powerlaw as money can be decelerated, eg I am looking for about five £100-days per week to be able to make a living. Well, with due consideration, we may also wish to estimate the period of time such a contract may exist, eg for a season. That is, we have a number tagged with three periods of time. Eg, five people contract me for £100-day per week for the duration of a season.
A previous thought has been credits which developed further on ideas I had with Tav when I first engaged the Espian lot back in summer 2007. Back then, I influenced Tav to shift from thinking of personal economic units, that is a currency relative to every individual, to subjective weighting, so that money was distributed through the ratio of values each and every individual allocates. The development in terms of credits was to map it in terms of two dimensions, open-closed and black-red. The safest credit to receive was black-closed, which effectively acts like money: it is money that is guaranteed because the person is in the black and the total allocation of credits is closed so that whatever value one gets is the value one gets.
Tav didn’t see the point in a system that had normal money in it. Now that we have come up with ecological economics, it is a useful way to track how one behaves with one’s credit allocation through life, perhaps promising a lot of open-red credits say, and then phasing into giving out black-closed credits for important things. And more importantly, it allows us to track our collective behaviour, giving us a chance to shift from a money-production culture to a value-creation one — all with the self-similar social contract of mttp. In fact, mttp might be renamed as mutual-time-trust-protocol, and the thing that is formed a Time Trust. This may be the name of the book I am writing about ecological economics.
demurrage, or rusty money
And in case this is too much, too far, one potential point of validation is to recognise 1) the limits of current understanding and 2) demurrage or rusty money is built into mttp.
In relation to the first, I am perpetually making sense of the jumps I have made. It is gratifying to note how credits has become useful after making that leap nearly two years ago (in this dunno book when I started to live in Madeira). I still have no idea about how to square closed credits with third order periods of velocity of money, but I am sure it is doable. This is also an invitation for anyone to contribute to this space. The first financial bods to seriously consider ecosquared and mttp, will be able to bring to light many aspects which will not only make them famous, but will provide us with further understanding and a stable evolution of the eco^2 entity. That is, everyone is welcome.
In relation to the second, it is gratifying to note how rusty money appears in this formulation. We have not had to graft it on, like a scaffolding of categories, but rather it evolves from the same mttp social contract. Namely, when I invite someone for a day, my £100 is fixed and does not change. Even should the entity die that week, they will receive the £100. Because it is fixed, it is useless. It is not reinvested by a bank, and does not pay interest. This may not appear significant at first, but if you consider an invitation for £10m which is for a century, that £100m will not be worth much in a century’s time. That is, it “devalues” — at least in traditional economic terms. That is, it rusts, because of inflation, primarily.
A remarkable observation, which naturally evolves from mttp.
the four directions of mttp
Examining the abstraction of money as a number set to periods of time (duration, rate and period eg £100-day per week over a season), we can re-examine the initial mttp contract. Namely, a decision is made before the period of time which way the money goes. In fact there are three possible contracts when money meets equally as given by the following truth table:
One of the options is your classic money contract: both people want to take, and so they negotiate in the form of a competition. This can take the form of a contest of skill to be determined throughout the period, a random game like throwing a coin, or through some more complex inter-subjective manner which amounts for what we call “business”. Two of the options provide the classic mttp of ecological economics: the person who invites agrees to give the person who is invited the money. Thus, there is confluence in that the giver and the taker align in the vector direction of money.
What has not been accounted for so far in eco^2 thinking is if both people wish to give. This can not be resolved in the manner of a competition, at least not in the same way two takers compete. It is gratifying to note that the money that is derived by two givers could become fluid and pay for those individuals who are taking. That is, it constitutes the second major means by which money flows into the entity; the first was invitation via mttp, the other is attraction. Depending on the decision gate state, this money is either distributed to everyone participating as dmp or it is fed directly into honouring the mttp contracts of individuals coming to the end of their contracts and who are taking as they leave.
sourcing the origins of giving
And further, it is interesting to note that numbers used in sea provide at least two indicators of how we behave:
- the values given to us total up to the total money that comes when there is a surplus payout via dmp
- the total values any one of us gives out, provides us with the style and quality of the way we value (cf credits above) as we grow older
That is, we can sum up the totals of points that are given to tell us something about how valueable we are perceived by others, the object of the vector; and we can also see how the value of a person in their allocation, the origin of the vector.
So, when one meets another person and one invites them to eco^2 and they also decide to give, this act of generosity of giving their money for other people who they may not even know, should be valued. That is, one can look back at the historical giving of a person and see the values they set out with in terms of their pattern of subjective enumeration coupled with the way they dealt with their first eco^2 invitation.
I can not discern it linguistically here and now, but there is a means by which the simple math of subjective enumeration can bring to the fore those individuals who are not only providing greatest value to others, but also those whose eye for value is appreciated. And in terms of social engagement, this may be appreciated as wisdom.
The reaason why I can not discern this clearly is because when I was trying to invent a numerical game for adolescents so that it was the giver who ended up being respected, not those who received, my mind could not do it. I believe it is in the math of the application of number to subjective evaluation. Money can be likened to the number that is given to another person, when I say that a conversation with John was worth 7 out of 10 say. I “gave” him 7. But I have also given 7. What is the maths of the giver?
The social contract instigated by mttp is quite phenomenal. That one can use mttp to replicate employment and investment and direct action, is quite something, and now to recognise the powerlaw and the logic of giving, I am humbled. I look forward to hearing how others explore this as they experience it. I did not misname it when I intuited mttp to be a fractal social contract.