uber-proof your labour

Platform capitalism is beginning to define the economy for the second Gilded Age we seem to be entering. It requires 4 contributing factors, which when combined, create a perfect opportunity for the “uberization” of almost any industry.

  1. A platform: a mobile application delivered through an oligopoly like iTunes or Google Play.
  2. A critical mass of users: upwardly mobile knowledge workers, especially those in Silicon Valley or the tech sector.
  3. Desperate service providers: people with no ability to organize due to weak or non-existing trade unions in their field, who see opportunities for better cash flow.
  4. Lack of regulations and oversight: bureaucracies that either cannot keep up with technology advances, or political leadership that condones poor working conditions in the name of progress.

Platform capitalism is not just affecting the taxi, cleaning, and hotel businesses. Many professions are getting “uberized”. (more…)

a new way to work

Corporations were created to give limited liability to organizations that were taking on large, capital-intensive projects, like building railways. Today, most corporations have little physical capital and instead derive their value from intangible goods and services. Such a significant economic shift should make us question the value of putting so much value into the corporation, when most of it now is created by workers. Do we still need a corporation to enable wealth-creation for a post-industrial, and more importantly, a post-job, economy? For example, the open source model has shown that software can be developed faster and cheaper (and many would say better) without a corporate, hierarchical structure. There are alternatives. (more…)

leadership for the network era

Power and Leadership

The TIMN [Tribes + Institutions + Markets + Networks] model shows how society grew from a collection of tribes, added institutions, and later developed markets. These aligned with revolutions in communications: from oral, to written, to print. The network era began with the advent of electric communications, though it is by no means completely established.

Each type of societal structure has required different types of leadership. Alexander the Great was probably one of the best tribal leaders. He led his armies from the front and created an enormous empire. After his death, some of his generals created long-lasting institutions not based on military tactics. Ptolemy’s library at Alexandria is one example. Later, institutions like the Catholic Church dominated more through soft institutional power, rather than wielding swords. Others did that for them when necessary. As a market society developed, new types of power were exercised by the Fuggers and the Hanseatic League. Later, captains of industry such as Andrew Carnegie, would dominate in their markets, often circumventing institutional power.

As we enter the network era, we see companies like Apple dominating, often ignoring Wall Street pundits. With network effects, Google can control the online advertising market, making market competition almost irrelevant. Power shifts as a society’s organizing principles change. (more…)

friday’s finds for 2014

Every fortnight I collate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I post the best as Friday’s Finds. Here are the best of 2014.

The nature of work is changing. People’s relationship with work is changing. The changes to society will be vast.” – @gapingvoid

Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, & eventually degenerates into a racket.” —Eric Hoffer – via @tom_peters

“Again, while enlightened animal trainers are recognizing the danger of a purely behavioral / Skinner approach, VC’s [venture capitalists] are funding it for humans.” – @SeriousPony

Humans require the difficult and messy social routing protocol of trust.” – Valdis Krebs @orgnet – via @voinonen

The Industrial era was based on the principle that an organisation produces, not the individuals, so the workers cannot produce without an organisation.” – @EskoKilpi

“How do we evaluate teachers? We never speak of this. It is irrelevant in our country. Instead, we discuss, ‘How can we help them?’”Pasi Sahlberg, Finnish Educator, via @PascalVenier