of Us, Business Week, 06.20.2005
[JS] Concise coverage of the way the positive sum opportunities of easy collaboration have turned our online lives into a cornucopia of the commons. They discuss the radical disruption of free P2P VoIP systems like Skype, the 180,000 (and counting) new independent service businesses created by eBay, the way Microsoft is losing global ground to Linux in servers, commodity OS environments, and in emerging nations (China, Brazil), the vast value of Amazon's millions of freely-created product reviews, the advancement of collective online innovation communities like InnoCentive, the continuing wonders of Google, the creativity of 3D worlds like Linden Lab's Second Life, and the emerging sophistication of free open source platforms like SugarCRM, a tool that will redefine the lower end of the market for large customer relationship management companies like Siebel Systems and Salesforce.com
Bottom line: The easier and more powerful collaboration becomes, the more stunning the new products and services we will see. What's more, we are still only at the beginning of what we might call the "Voluntary Economy." Business visionary Gary Hoover, in his excellent online article, "Beyond the Corporation," summarizes the work of Nobel-prize-winning economist Robert Fogel (The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism, 2000) who tells us that the lifetime discretionary hours of first world residents has risen from 43,800 in 1880 to 176,100 in 1995, and will reach 246,000 in 2040. The longer people are able to live, and the less total lifetime hours they need to work to support a voluntary lifestyle, the more freely-given, nonprofit, and other creative projects the world will see. Our life in the voluntary commons is just beginning.
The more we all become digital activists, the faster we improve the quality of these products. How do you keep track of all the cool stuff? You can't, but you can have fun trying. Pick of the month: deli.ciou.us, an open source tool for managing and collaboratively sharing bookmarks. This lets us all continually discover the current most popular sites, by consensus.