Get Shouty

We Think and We Share
April 11, 2008, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy

New York must be a small town- I keep running into Mike Arauz, which reminded me that I needed to share this piece promoting a new book by Charles Leadbeater, ‘We Think’ which says it explores the potential of the latest developments of the internet.

For me one of the most interesting questions posed is: How do we earn a living when everyone is freely sharing their ideas? In the was you were what you owned. Now you are what you share.

One of my favourite quotes about our current gift economy is: ‘the more information your organization has outside of it’s firewall the stronger you become”

Information is particularly suited to gift economics, as information can be copied and transmitted at practically no cost. It can be treated as a nonrival good: when you share information, you do not deprive yourself of the information (although you may deprive yourself of certain revenues that could be gained in the market economy from the intellectual property rights).

Traditional scientific research is an information gift economy. Scientists produce research papers and give them away through journals and conferences. Other scientists freely refer to such papers. The more citations a scientist has, the more prestige and respect he or she has, which can attract funding and positions. All scientists therefore benefit from the increased pool of knowledge.

 Gift cultures are adaptations not to scarcity but to abundance.  In gift cultures, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away.

You see when everyone is giving away their ideas- how can your client tell tell when your idea is a good one? What can communicate that you might have the right idea, the right approach- that’s where authority and reputation comes in. It proves that you have been able to have ideas worth sharing and prompted valuable conversations. So it’s economically worthwhile to build this reputation.

The ideas you share can only be a contemporary reflection (often campaigns are planned more than six months in advance)- and so relatively useless in the rapidly changing environment in which we are trying to create brand experiences. And I’d like to think that the experiences that we make for brands, because they are designed to differentiate, are not replicable by anyone else anyway after the fact.

Our ideas will earn us a living when they are consultative, forward facing, built on strategic insights and anthropological rigour. We need to share our ideas so that the work we do can stand out from the crowd and so we can create fascinating and delightful experiences in the future.



3 Comments so far
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Giving away your ideas is also an indication that you cannot be held ransom to them. It means that, as a “thought leader” your ideas are not limited — that there are many concepts that can be shared with your clients, colleagues, friends and communities. In fact, in a world of ideas, sharing yours is the only way to enter the conversation.

Comment by Gavin Heaton

I agree Gavin- there’s nothing more common than a good idea gone to waste. I also believe that you enter into the conversation by talking about ideas and swapping memes, but you enter into fee for work from your ability to execute those ideas into terrific brand experiences.

Comment by katiechatfield

[…] I’ve been thinking about gifts. Again. […]

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