What would Gough Do?

I had a few names I was tossing up for this piece. Its the usual story – I have been listening to Freakanomics radio and have been inspired to write this. But first on the name:

I thought I would do a “Letter to Mr Shorten” in response to the Labour opposition leaders press release – Bill Shorten reveals Labor’s plans for services such as Uber and Airbnb – which said if Shorten was elected in 2016, he would work with state and territory governments to deliver legislative and regulatory reforms that would turn the six principles into “concrete laws”. Take a look at the principles and think about them. Do they anticipate the future or apply past norms to a new paradigm? Which brought me to my next title – The Third Industrial Revolution – which is Rifkin doing a take on predicting the future. Which is a bit disappointing too as it fails to take up the task of questioning the form of ‘regulation’ that we have been building for the past few centuries. (Nice website though!) This mechanism – regulation – needs a rethink and we are walking past the sign posts that are asking for a rethink of what it means to be in the new economy.

In short I don’t have a title that points to any of the current texts or pronouncements. This is where I settle upon a title that is better than all these titles which could serve as sign posts towards one or other theoretical formulation.

This is the 40th Anniversary of the sacking of Gough Whitlam – arguably one of the finest idea-people we have seen. So I am revisiting Gough with a title – What would Gough Do? This is a great idea for my friends who speak glowingly about the massive change he ushered in upon taking office. He modernised state regulation that was continuing to serve as a dam, a bottleneck, to keep the past surviving even when the world had changed beyond recognition. Sure – I can start to hear the howls of protest, for this is a splendidly divisive thing to say. Hey for the day – can we just leave him as the patron saint of visionary regulation. Just for for the duration of this post!

The title having been dealt with lets proceed with the topic of this post: Regulation. This Freakanomics podcast (Regulate this!) – transcript here, podcast in iTunes – does a great take on showing the global confrontation underway between the regulators and the solution visualizers within the sharing economy. Zimmer (Lyft) puts it one way:

“ZIMMER: They interpret laws one way and are trying to do their job. And we interpret laws another way and are trying to innovate. And those two things are at odds, and the timelines are at odds. And if we took the approach of, “Hey, let’s wait and see what the government does to create a path that is very, very clear for this new industry” that we believe benefits drivers, passengers, and cities, then we wouldn’t be operating anywhere.”

This is the small view, to use a Tim Brown phrase. Or to use Dubner’s phrase – “this is what creative destruction looks like”. Let us fast forward to a future somewhere in the 2050s. Today’s battle will look ridicuclous – yes Napster was destroyed, but what happened to the music industry. The end of the music industry is something we are comfortable with. That sunset industry used its might and connection with the regulators and lawyers. Yes they destroyed one idea – but the collective change process underway was much bigger and would transform the whole ecosystem. Levin in this pod cast puts it devastatingly:

I think the more fundamental threat to taxi drivers in the long run, as a way to be employed, is almost certainly autonomous cars… In 20 years, it may be that there actually aren’t people in the front seat of the car.

Wow – here comes the empty front seat!

We are witnessing “an amazing democratization of personal service and convenience” (Levin). Where will this process, this transformation brought on by contemporary technology, lead us? We are already witnessing a new culture, a new sociality and a new emergence of ‘trust’ within the youth. Privacy which is such a big thing for the older people just does not have the same currency with the young.

Urry has a brilliant phrase that explains one form of the new sociality that we despair at. He calls it ‘copresencing’ and this explains how young people, spending all their time on their phones, are actually hanging-out (digitally) with friends. They are in effect practising co-presence. Now there is nothing wrong with hanging out – is there? Here is a plug for Urry’s book Mobilities where you can find this and a lot of other very insightful ideas. Check it on Amazon here.

What we are missing is a conversation and a spirit of wonder at the way the new is changing us, our ways and then proceeding to knock on the doors of the regulators to ask for a conversation. If the regulators are responding with more regulation – we need to protect the industry, tax system and the consumer – we know this is temporary and a form of slow adaptation. Imagine if we could have another way to look at this change – such as visualizing the change, and coming up with scenarios. So we codesign our way into an inevitable future. So that we don’t battle our way into the future. Yes we don’t have a Gough around with the boldness to make regulation vanish – snap – but hey why don’t we start by invoking his spirit today and see what it does to our way of thinking about regulation. Need I add @billshortenmp and @malcolmturnbull.

“Let me make quite clear that I am for abortion and, in your case Sir, we should make it retrospective.” (GW)

More Reading

If you want to read up more here is a list of books. All the annotation text is from Amazon. So do go there to take a look.

What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

by Rachel Botsman & Roo Rogers

“Amidst a thousand tirades against the excesses and waste of consumer society, What’s Mine Is Yours offers us something genuinely new and invigorating: a way out.” —Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air and The Ghost Map

A groundbreaking and original book, What’s Mine is Yours articulates for the first time the roots of “collaborative consumption,” Rachel Botsman and Roo Roger’s timely new coinage for the technology-based peer communities that are transforming the traditional landscape of business, consumerism, and the way we live. Readers captivated by Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, Van Jones’ The Green Collar Economy or Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point will be wowed by this landmark contribution to the evolving ecology of commerce and sustainability.

The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing

by Lisa Gansky

Traditional businesses follow a simple formula: create a product or service, sell it, collect money. But in the last few years a fundamentally different model has taken root-one in which consumers have more choices, more tools, more information, and more peer-to-peer power. Pioneering entrepreneur Lisa Gansky calls it the Mesh and reveals why it will dominate the future of business. Mesh companies use social media, wireless networks, and data crunched from every available source to provide people with goods and services at the exact moment they need them, without the burden and expense of owning them outright. Gansky reveals how there is real money to be made and trusted brands and strong communities to be built in helping your customers buy less but use more.

The Business of Sharing: Making it in the New Sharing Economy

by Alex Stephany

The ‘sharing economy’ is changing the rules of business.

Why buy a hedge trimmer that you use twice a year? Why not borrow someone else’s? Why leave your driveway empty all day while you’re at work? Why not charge someone to park there while you’re not using it? And if your business is selling hedge trimmers or parking – or anything else people can share – what do you do about it?

Already, the sharing economy or ‘collaborative consumption’ lets people earn over $15 billion a year by renting and selling what they own: from cars and homes to money and time. And that’s almost nothing. According to PwC, the sharing economy will grow into a $335 billion market by 2025. TIME Magazine calls it “One of 10 Ideas that will Change the World.” Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas L Friedman calls it “The real deal”.

Today, fast-moving tech startups like Airbnb and Uber are disrupting huge sectors of the old economy, mobilising millions of micro-entrepreneurs in the process. As Silicon Valley investors pile cash into sharing economy startups, some of the world’s largest companies are watching their backs. How can the 20th century’s corporate beasts not only survive but thrive in a new world of peer-to-peer commerce and sharing?

Written by one of the business leaders of the movement, The Business of Sharing is an insider’s guide to the sharing economy: for anyone thinking of entering the sharing economy and profiting from the upheavals ahead. From the boardroom of Sequoia Capital to 10 Downing Street, Stephany meets the powerbrokers pulling the strings in this new economy. And he meets the ordinary people cashing out.

This critically acclaimed new book includes colorful original interviews with entrepreneurs like the founders of Airbnb and Zipcar and the world’s top venture capitalists, plus case studies of major brands from around the world. The Business of Sharing is essential reading for anyone looking to get to grips with one of today’s must-understand global trends.

Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism

by Robin Chase

When Robin Chase cofounded Zipcar, she not only started a business but established the foundation for one of the most important economic and social ideas of our time: the collaborative economy. With this important book, she broadens our thinking about the ways in which the economy is being transformed and shows how the Peers Inc model is changing the very nature of capitalism.

When the best of people power is combined with the best of corporate power to form “Peers Inc” organizations, a potent creative force is released. The “Inc” in these collaborations delivers the industrial strengths of significant scale and resources, and the “Peers” bring together the individual strengths of localization, specialization, and customization, unlocking the power of the collaborative economy. When excess capacity is harnessed by the platform and diverse peers participate, a completely new dynamic is unleashed.

In Peers Inc, Robin Chase brings her provocative insights to work, business, the economy, and the environment, showing:

  • How focusing on excess capacity transforms the economics of what’s possible and delivers abundance to all
  • How the new collaboration between the Inc and the Peers enables companies to grow more quickly, learn faster, and deliver smarter products and services
  • How leveraging the Peers Inc model can address climate change with the necessary speed and scale
  • How the Peers Inc model can help legacy companies overcome their shortening life cycle by inviting innovation and evolution
  • Why power parity between the Peers and the Inc is a prerequisite for long-term success
  • How platforms can be built within the existing financial system or outside of it
  • What government can do to enhance economic possibility and protect people working in this new decentralized world

Chase casts a wide net, illuminating the potential of the Peers Inc model to address broader issues such as climate change and income inequality, and proves the impact that this innovative economic force can have on the most pressing issues of our time.

Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age

by Philippe Aigrain

An in-depth exploration of digital culture and its dissemination, Sharing offers a counterpoint to the dominant view that file sharing is piracy. Instead, Philippe Aigrain looks at the benefits of file sharing, which allows unknown writers and artists to be appreciated more easily. Concentrating not only on the cultural enrichment caused by widely shared digital media, Sharing also discusses new financing models that would allow works to be shared freely by individuals without aim at profit. Aigrain carefully balances the needs to support and reward creative activity with a suitable respect for the cultural common good and proposes a new interpretation of the digital landscape.

Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators

by Clay Shirky

How new technology is changing us for the better.

In his bestselling Here Comes Everybody, Internet guru Clay Shirky provided readers with a much-needed primer for the digital age. Now, with Cognitive Surplus, he reveals how new digital technology is unleashing a torrent of creative production that will transform our world. For the first time, people are embracing new media that allow them to pool their efforts at vanishingly low cost. The results of this aggregated effort range from mind-expanding reference tools like Wikipedia to life-saving Web sites like Ushahidi.com, which allows Kenyans to report acts of violence in real time. Cognitive Surplus explores what’s possible when people unite to use their intellect, energy, and time for the greater good.

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World

by Don Tapscott

The Net Generation Has Arrived. Are you ready for it?

Chances are you know a person between the ages of 11 and 30. You’ve seen them doing five things at once: texting friends, downloading music, uploading videos, watching a movie on a two-inch screen, and doing who-knows-what on Facebook or MySpace. They’re the first generation to have literally grown up digital–and they’re part of a global cultural phenomenon that’s here to stay.

The bottom line is this: If you understand the Net Generation, you will understand the future.

If you’re a Baby Boomer or Gen-Xer: This is your field guide.

A fascinating inside look at the Net Generation, Grown Up Digital is inspired by a $4 million private research study. New York Times bestselling author Don Tapscott has surveyed more than 11,000 young people. Instead of a bunch of spoiled “screenagers” with short attention spans and zero social skills, he discovered a remarkably bright community which has developed revolutionary new ways of thinking, interacting, working, and socializing.

Grown Up Digital reveals:

  • How the brain of the Net Generation processes information
  • Seven ways to attract and engage young talent in the workforce
  • Seven guidelines for educators to tap the Net Gen potential
  • Parenting 2.0: There’s no place like the new home
  • Citizen Net: How young people and the Internet are transforming democracy

Today’s young people are using technology in ways you could never imagine. Instead of passively watching television, the “Net Geners” are actively participating in the distribution of entertainment and information. For the first time in history, youth are the authorities on something really important. And they’re changing every aspect of our society-from the workplace to the marketplace, from the classroom to the living room, from the voting booth to the Oval Office.

The Digital Age is here. The Net Generation has arrived. Meet the future.

Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy

by Bryan J Kramer

Technology continues to evolve and make our lives busier and more complicated, but it can never replace true human connection–our fundamental need to share information, stories, and emotions.

Sharelogy explores the history, art and science of sharing, and illustrates why sharing is what gives us a unique competitive advantage as individuals and brands. It is meant for entrepreneurs and marketers who want to make their content more valuable, shareable, and for individuals who want to understand the power of sharing to grow their personal brand.

Kramer’s best-selling second book, Shareology raced onto the USA Today’s Top 150 Book List the week of its release, as well as onto #1 on Amazon in four categories includingBusiness & Planning, Strategic Planning, Hot New Releases and Communications, and Business Best Sellers Top 25 and Jack Covert Selects list on 800 CEO Reads.

Shareology includes:

  • The Shareology Backstory
  • Sharing in the Human Economy
  • The Importance of Context
  • The Human Business Movement
  • Sharing: A Sensory Experience
  • Timing Is Everything
  • Redefining Influencers Inside and Out
  • Connections and Conversations
  • Creating Shared Experiences
  • Social Selling Helping
  • What Makes Stuff Worth Sharing
  • Brands on Sharing
  • The Sharing Future: What’s Next?

Bryan Kramer is a renowned global speaker, consultant and trainer. He’s also one of the world’s foremost leaders in the art and science of sharing, and has been credited with instigating the #H2H human business movement in marketing and social, which was the basis for his first book: There is No B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human #H2H ~ another Amazon bestseller.

It’s a Shareable Life: A Practical Guide on Sharing

by Chelsea Rustrum (Author), Gabriel Stempinski , Alexandra Liss

Three 20-somethings started off as strangers and came together through experiencing the life-altering benefits of sharing. Through their sharing experiments, they gifted, bartered, rented, and swapped their way to a richer life.

Now, you too can learn how to lead a Shareable Life through the practical know-how and real life stories highlighted in this comprehensive guide.


  • Live rent free
  • Pay for your car
  • Increase your free time
  • Work from anywhere
  • Find work, even in a down economy
  • Travel the world on a backpacker budget
  • Reduce your monthly expenses sharing
  • Build a stronger community
  • Develop more trust in people
  • Create a healthier lifestyle
  • What are people saying?

“It’s a Shareable Life is a ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in the practical side of living the sharing economy.” – Rachel Botsman, Author of What’s Mine is Yours

“This is the best guide I’ve seen for the sharing economy.” – Casey Fenton, Founder of Couchsurfing

Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business

by Jeff Howe

Why does Procter & Gamble repeatedly call on enthusiastic amateurs to solve scientific and technical challenges? How can companies as diverse as iStockphoto and Threadless employ just a handful of people, yet generate millions of dollars in revenue every year?

“Crowdsourcing” is how the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the responsibility of a specialized few. Jeff Howe reveals that the crowd is more than wise–it’s talented, creative, and stunningly productive. It’s also a perfect meritocracy, where age, gender, race, education, and job history no longer matter; the quality of the work is all that counts. If you can perform the service, design the product, or solve the problem, you’ve got the job.

But crowdsourcing has also triggered a dramatic shift in the way work is organized, talent is employed, research is conducted, and products are made and marketed. As the crowd comes to supplant traditional forms of labor, pain and disruption are inevitable, and Howe delves into both the positive and negative consequences of this intriguing phenomenon. Through extensive reporting from the front lines of this workplace revolution, he employs a brilliant array of stories to look at the economic, cultural, business, and political implications of crowdsourcing.

Notes to Friends

To my friends in Design – Airbnb was born when two designers rented out their apartments to people, designers, who were coming to town for a design conference. This is a good idea, why don’t we propagate this? And so was born a new form of sociality.

To my friends in the Architecture space – there is an interesting link between the sharing economy and Architects. As Zimmer of Lyft says it:

ZIMMER: So in 2006, I went to Cornell Hotel School, and in my senior year took a class in city planning in the architecture school. And the class was called “Green Cities,” and had this amazing professor.

DUBNER: The professor was Robert Young …

The professor inspired Zimmer with something he said about occupancy. Lyft was born – eventually.

Published by Soumitri Varadarajan

Soumitri lives in Melbourne, Australia - #probonodesign #codesign #sustainability #patientexperience #quantifiedself #mdg

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