New site

Found a new site called at Doc Searls, who referred to it as “markets for expertise.”Here’s a cool essay on the evolution of wealth creation, from earlier land-based models to the Corporate Economy … to yet another technology-driven shift to what the authors call “The Peer Economy.” There’s certainly some thought-provoking ideas here, though perhaps ahead of its time. An excerpt:

Imagine yourself as the most informed economist around 1850. As an economic guru, you would have a confident conception about the character of wealth and its formation. Without question, 1850’s wealth is based in the land and little else. Even the first stirrings of industrialism seemed to ratify the importance of land rather than discount it. The railroads, big oil and what there was of large-scale industry were based largely on real estate. Since the land had been the basis of wealth and influence forever, it would not occur to you, the world’s foremost economist, that your great grandchildren would consider land an extraneous and inconvenient factor in securing their family’s prosperity. It would be inconceivable to you that ownership of real estate could become just another business and not a very interesting or influential one.

The shift from land-based wealth to the Corporate Economy occurred because we started using the corporate vehicle in earnest. Corporations had been around a while, but did so little business that their special focus had little bearing on the economy. But to use control of the land to create Union Pacific or Standard Oil required a corporation to raise the capital you didn’t need when your use of land was to mold serfs into soldiers to build your power base.

The question is, how could the marvelous productivity of localized business become the engine of the next wave of democratic wealth? It happens when the global communications links forged by corporations serve the sole proprietor as well as the multinational corporations and interactive TV spuds they were designed for.

A ubiquitous Internet, unmediated peer-to-peer payments and eXtensible Markup Language (XML) are the building blocks of the Peer Economy, where you transact directly with another and not their company, although you’ve never met nor will, each with absolute confidence in your security and total satisfaction. The Peer Economy provides mechanisms for wealth creation which cut across corporate borders and are aggregated in the very fabric of the Internet, not locked inside the balance sheets of contending companies and mutual funds.

The point is not how many slaves we have, it’s how much they and we are deployed on tasks which are truly useful to each other.

That’s the promise of the Peer Economy: billions of productive people and millions of J.P. Morgans.


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