Geoffrey Wells’ Weekly Letter #5: Trust and the paradox of sharing.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
If we trust the sharing economy, and are creative beings, then our need for privacy is at odds with our need to share. The creative process is impossible without time to think, to try options, to fail, to try again, and only when we are completely satisfied–only then–should we be free to release our work to the world. Every creative endeavor must at some point be exposed to others. Respect for the timing of that release is fundamental to the freedom of artists, engineers, composers, inventors, and yes, even writers. Or, it should be. Conversely, those who participate in the sharing economy say that the creative process benefits from the wisdom of the crowd. Creators have always grappled with the dilemma of sharing work before it’s “ready”.
I’m currently reading BOLD – HOW TO GO BIG ACHIEVE SUCCESS AND IMPACT THE WORLD by Peter Diamandis. Peter is a Greek-American engineer, physician, and entrepreneur best known for being the founder and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, and the co-founder and chairman of Singularity University. In his world of anything-is-possible, he shows how sourcing from the crowd can make things happen at a massive scale.
So of course I wondered how many of my own UNEXPLORED IDEAS would, or perhaps could, still benefit from crowdsourcing. In this list I am proud to say (yet slightly ashamed) that I had the idea in 2001 for a taxi service in LA that, at any point in time would optimize trips and do pickups on a demand/shared trip basis. So when Uber came to life, of course, I said, it had to happen. Well, the critics would say timing is everything. Without the Internet of today and the sharing economy that idea could never happen–and I would agree. Nevertheless, it was possible to imagine it because it filled a basic need–convenience at the right price. Here’s another one, yet to be realized. Boston has so much snow it is dumping it into the ocean. California has a chronic water shortage. Can’t the crowd figure it out?
SIDEBAR~ I HAVE BEEN USING EVERNOTE, AN APP THAT HELPS ME MANAGE NOTES, APPOINTMENTS, REMINDERS, LISTS, ETC. IT INTEGRATES WELL WITH SUNRISE, A CALENDARING PROGRAM. I FIND THESE TWO APPS BETTER THAN EITHER GMAIL OR THE BUILT-IN IPHONE APPS.
How many times has this happened to you? Did you think of the Airbnb brainwave one morning before work in the proverbial shower? And what do we do with these ideas? Well, mostly, nothing. They are too hard, too impossible, too wacky, stupid, impractical and expensive to take seriously. Diamandis urges that none of that matters. All you need to do is XYZ on a sharing site. And the creator says, let me first get my project done, then I’ll go there–which misses the point completely. Yet, are we being irresponsible if we don’t create and share both the process of creating and the creation itself, all at the same time?
On the same theme, this week President Obama announced new (foreign) policy regarding cybersecurity. He stressed the importance of investment in Science and Technology and the need for working together. But what if an employee at a pharmaceutical company betrayed the trust of the government? I explore that theme in THE FACES IN THE RAIN. My takeaway, not surprisingly, is that it takes TRUST for this policy to be successful. While I agree that passwords are no longer sufficient to protect us, I think that bio-metric identifiers such as a thumb print or an eye iris is not a panacea. How log will it be before we hear of amputated thumbs or iris scan copying?
The President said, employees must trust employers with their information, and employers must trust the government. Trust must prevail with every permutation of these relationships. And not just on Valentine’s Day.