Author Archives: David Orban

The nimbler learn faster

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Making sustainable and meaningful change happen in large organizations and countries is naturally hard. And while it is not necessarily true that smaller ones have it easy, there are some that try to understand what to do, and how to do it.

Today we met with Deputy Kevin Stewart, Minister of Commerce and Employment of Guernsey and other deputies, at a breakfast organized by Marc Winn, right before the start of TEDx St Peter Port. An island nation of 64000 people, Guernsey wants to understand the future, and how the technology based transformation of society is going to shape the well-being and opportunities of communities around the world.

Nimble and lean decision making, crafting policies that are fit for today, and reevaluated for tomorrow, to be updated as needed, is within the reach of those who are eager to play an active role in this complex, but exciting future. We are looking forward to proceeding with this project, applying the Network Society Readiness Index framework and methodology to Guernsey, and deriving the appropriate policy and strategy recommendations from it.

Is society fostering or hindering change?

Argentina discussion

Does your society hinder, or foster the adoption of decentralized and distributed technologies in the areas of energy, manufacturing, food, health, learning, finance, security and policy? An informal panel of participants at the Network Society meeting in Buenos Aires established the following scores for Argentina:

Energy         1
Manufacturing  0
Food          -2
Health        -2
Learning       2
Finance       -2
Security       0
Policy        -2

The scores mean:

-2  opposing
-1  hindering
 0  neutral
 1  fostering
 2  promoting

Of course, this is a non representative and non-scientific method, but a sample of smart, proactive people, who care to understand the state and the dynamics of their society. The discussion around each of these points was very illuminating and worth a post on their own.

The country scores are going to compose a global ranking of Network Society Readiness for nations to be published later this year.

Launching the Network Society Arts Council

Network Society Arts Council

The fundamental message of the Network Society Project of technology based inclusive socio-economic change is articulated through numerous online channels and in events and publications worldwide. Its impact on those who are analytically inclined and readily absorb complex subjects is profound. The necessity is clear to widen this effect through additional means.

Art has always been a premier channel to interpret reality and to provide a deep understanding of issues and currents in society. Expressions of performing arts, visual arts, music, digital media and more can each play a role in interpreting the meaning of the phase changes and transformations that the vision of Network Society unfolds.

We are now launching the Network Society Arts Council to achieve this goal and are looking forward to the creative and exciting ways that we will be able to engage a wide public!

Some of the artists that participate in the initiative:
Ines Flammarion, storyteller
Shane Hope, poet and generative artist
Linda Pollack, performance artist and political hacktivist
Alessia Sacco, dancer
Chris Ford, singer and songwriter…

Background art by Shane Hope


The Economic Impact Of The Maker Movement

How is 3D printing, together with other technologies in the maker movement enabling creativity, and entrepreneurship? Mark Hatch, CEO of TechShop, shares some astonishing numbers: in the Bay Area, TechShop catalyzed $10B in shareholder value, $2B in annual sales, $200M in annual salaries, created by members.

“We are living in an era where you can go through your own personal industrial revolution in ninety days. You can come to a TechShop, take twenty to thirty classes, spend ten hours a day, and in ninety days you are going to be able to go from not knowing how to make anything, to knowing how to make almost anything.

And what happens when you get a group of like a thousand people that are doing that, you fundamentally change the economics in the city. So what’s happened in the Bay Area? Ten billion dollars in shareholder value, two billion dollars in annual sales, two hundred million dollars in annual salaries have been created by members who have come in and picked up the skills that they needed to start a business or to start an educational institution or to pursue their dreams.

We are living in a completely new era. It’s been completely unknown to man, until literally just the last four-five years. We are part of the maker movement, and it’s really a grassroots, ground-up kind of activity, where individuals start to realize these are the things I need to understand, these are the tools that I need access to. So they reach out and they get the particular thing that they need. There is no hierarchy that says that in order for you to be an engineer, you have to take these many classes in engineering, these many classes in French, these many classes in world history. You don’t have to do that anymore! You can go to a TechShop or a General Assembly, or you can go on to MOOC, and you can get the minimum amount of information you need to move your project to the next stage. That’s very much personally driven, and you own it yourself.

The primary issue is that people have never heard of them. They don’t know what it is. They’ve never visited them. What they imagine, and what it actually is is radically different. And so I need more people to actually visit the locations, to see the videos, to see what it is. That’s one, because it is completely different than anything that they’ve seen before. And the next one is access to capital. It takes ten million dollars over five years to get one up and running, and thriving in a major metropolitan area.

We have three primary funding entities: it’s either a major educational institution, like Arizona State University in Phoenix, or soon Wichita, or Washington University, or Dublin City University, or the Technical University of Munich. These are five universities that we are engaged with. Or it is a major corporation like Ford Motor Company, who’s seen a one hundred percent increase in high quality patentable ideas because they put a TechShop next to their facilities. Or it’s a government entity, like the Veteran’s Administration in collaboration with General Electric, who helped to fund our two locations in Pittsburg and DC.

Let’s change the world!”

3D Printing Makes Complexity Free

In traditional manufacturing processes the cost of a complex object increases the cost of the plant and of the process itself. This makes the design and prototyping of complex objects worthwhile and available to only those who have the capital available to then create the corresponding production line.

With 3D printing a fundamental difference is that, apart from the time that the printing takes, there is no change for the printer in creating a complex object from creating a simple one. Beyond a certain fixed level, proportional to the cost of the printer itself, complexity becomes for all practical purposes free in the manufacturing process.
3D Printing Makes Complexity FreeA direct consequence of this is that the value flows from the production process, the production line, and the capital required for its deployment, to those capable of designing, and adapting the designs to different needs and circumstances.

Since 3D printed designs can be digitally transferred, and turned into atoms where it is most needed or most convenient, this frees up the creative and valuable part of the process to be executed wherever is best suited on the planet. Wherever it is most stimulating, convenient to live, 3D designers can flock in areas of the world to churn out valuable designs, in constant communication with their clients, iterating and perfecting the products in the smallest production batches possible.

The speedup of this process is beneficial to traditional processes too, which can incorporate the best designs in high-volume productions, and accelerate the discovery of optimal solutions.

(Photo of 3d printed object credit Hal Gottfried)

New Layers of Innovation Become Foundational Infrastructure

Roads, phone lines, the electric grid: each of these components of modern life, which we take for granted, together with uncountable interlocking parts, have once been innovations at the edges. Innovations, that were little more than experiments, blossomed, peaked, and then faded into the background, without losing importance, but stopping from being the focus of attention.

Universal adoption of a tool or a service guarantees widespread value to be generated, and it also makes it so that nobody has a specific differentiating advantage using it.

Mainframes still exist

In the computer industry mainframe computers made by IBM were dominating and newsworthy. Do you read about mainframes these days at all? Are they in the news any day? Mainframes still exist, they just don’t matter anymore, in the eyes of those who want to innovate at the edges of technology, and create new layers of value.

The transformation of the pillars of the Nation State will shift the focus of attention and innovation away from centralized systems. It will not eliminate the infrastructures that deliver value to everybody, as much as make them less relevant, taken for granted but not newsworthy.

Tolerance Guiding Social Evolution

Do societies evolve? And what do we mean by that if they do? The degree of fitness of a given organism or organization to its environment and its capability of taking advantage of the environment’s limited resources as it propagate itself if what expresses their being “evolved”.

A society that is capable of this adaptation, under the changing conditions of the technological infrastructure that creates different opportunities for its members, is resilient. It can recognize and accept behaviors that, while outside of what used to be the legal or behavioral norm previously, now can and should be accepted, and even become legal.

Tolerance Shaping US Society

It is what happened in the United States of America if we look at a hundred year perspective, with alcohol consumption, interracial marriage, same-sex marriage and other previously prohibited behaviors becoming accepted, and legal.

Being able to create organizations and societies that are capable of embracing changes of behavior and a wider spectrum of behaviors than previously appears to be even more necessary when so many people participate in rich networks of interests that are not geographically constrained. The Network Society can only be an inclusive organization that can recognize the value of constant evolutionary adaptation.

Introducing the Network Society Readiness Index

Introducing the Network Society Readiness Index (“NSRI”), a tool that allows organizations to measure their level of awareness and implement strategies to bring their practices to the desired levels of compatibility with a distributed and decentralized future, a new socio-economic organization that is unstoppable.

The methods and the practices behind the NSRI are going to be published under a CC-BY license as all the output of Network Society Research. Enterprises, corporations that want to implement them, will be able to leverage the services of certified organizations capable of following their needs and to offer value added advisory as they leverage the insights gained.



Connecting communities through local languages

The Network Society Project is a global initiative, that aims to empower and emancipate through advanced knowledge and concrete applications communities all over the world. Spreading a message can only be effective, and achieve the right level of emotional connection if it is done in the native language of each person contacted. Starting with the translation of “The Fundamental Thesis of the Network Society“, we are embarking on meeting this challenge. Here you can see the Maori translation of the thesis, completed with the help of Te Tumatakuru O’Connell, Network Society’s Ambassador for Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.

The Fundamental Thesis - Maori.001

Ko te Kaupapa Ake o te Network Society
1. Kia puta rā anō he kaupapa hangarau hou kātahi anō ka tīni haere te noho o te hapori me ōna pūtake mahi moni.
2. Kua puta rā ngā hangarau hou mō te ao whānui i kore haere ai ngā take mō ngā hangarau o mua pēnei i te whakahaere ā-pūtahi, i te aroākapanga rānei.
3. Mā ngā hangarau hou nei ka kore haere ngā poupou kāwanatanga o ia whenua o ia whenua. Ko te hua kē ka puta ko te Hapori Hangarau (Network Society).

Do you speak a language other than English? You can also help, going to Dotsub where the thesis has been set to music, and translate the three sentences, without worrying about formatting or layout.

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The Role of Government In An Era Of Declining State Influence

The Role of Government

The US Department of State recognizes the need to get involved with the constituents of the Network Society, to face and solve the challenges of global problems. This coming online event looks very interesting, to learn how the US Government sees its role in the rapidly changing scenarios.

The Role of Government

“Join the U.S. Department of State on October 23rd, at 11:00am EDT for a discussion on the role of government.

Traditionally, only governments possessed the powers of taxation, lawmaking and coercive force. But the rapid evolution towards disaggregated power and authority today means that governments can no longer meet the challenges of global governance alone.

Actors such as businesses, NGOs and networks of individuals, are increasingly getting involved in developing and implementing solutions to global problems.

Still, their capabilities are hindered because governments have not figured out how to embrace them within their own accountability framework.

Using vivid and compelling examples drawn from real-world events, Thomas Debass, Deputy Special Representative for Global Partnerships, Rob Fonberg, Former Deputy Minister for the Canadian Department of National Defence, and moderator Anthony Williams will discuss how in an era marked by the decline of state influence, governments can still contribute to the global good.”