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In my previous blog post I made a spontaneous call for the content economy to replace the economy of growth. I realize that the call had a high level of abstraction and needs to be made a little more concrete in its comparison with the current paradigm of economies of growth. This is what I do now.
The easiest way to picture the content economy is by looking at a family (your own?) with up-growing children. The family is continuously influenced by the phases of development of the children, the aging of the parents, the facilities needed or desired in the house or by the people, the physical health, self-sufficiency in providing life support, the interior, size and quality of the space, the warmth of the family interaction, decoration of the dwelling, as well as the things that happen in the neighborhood around the house (in terms of safety, parking, social interaction with neighbors, etc). The family uses those influences to continuously renovate, adapt and modify the interior, the facilities and human interaction as the situation changes continuously for them over time. One of the key bonding factors of a family is the love that unites them in a common family mission of human wellness and evolution.
When the children are babies the house and social interaction is totally different then when the children are teenagers or when the parents have become pensioners and the children started a family life on their own, with maybe the external support of the parents. The stability and progress of the family is determined by its willingness to modify its functional structure, decoration, interaction, etc as the situations change. This is conducted by all members of the family who express their desires and contribute to the adaptability through progressive reflection, interaction, experimentation with innovations and decision making. Changes from outside are absorbed in this adaptability while the family itself is also continuously evaluating change and progress with their views, desires and means. The family wealth is determined by its warmth, love, respect, equality, proactive interaction and capacity to progress using human values as guiding principles. When someone is ill family members change their agenda to assist the person in need. When a celebration is appropriate all join in to acknowledge the pleasure. Gratitude for each other and for the wellness all enjoy is celebrated together and all act to maintain it through labor, creative contributions and sharing the fruits of all actions for the better and worst. People support each other. When accidents happen that may affect the safety or health of the family members the causes are found and dealt with. So when the open fire place is dirty and fills the house with smoke, the pipes are cleaned or the fire place is not used anymore for a while. When the child gets hurt because of a hazard in the house, the hazard is taken away or the child is taught how to deal with the danger. Interaction between the practical wisdom of the elderly and the youthful adventurousness of the children is protective but also progressive.
All this and more is content economy, based on the reflective, continuous develop of what “we are”, not on what “we have”. None of the family discussions for progress turn around money but the way they invest time, talent and energy in the progress of the family. Money is a means, the goal is something totally different and related to investments required to achieve them. Technology is also a means, as an instrument to support activities in the home, for recreation of educational purposes, maybe to cover the transportation needs of the family, whatever. Technology is not a goal either, it’s what one can do with it that matters. A family is rich when it is warm, caring, loving and supportive towards progress through mutual adaptiveness at all times.
When we step out into the world outside the family we see that the national economies have grown to become based on totally different principles since the introduction of growth based economies. Money has become the ultimate goal for politics and business enterprises for different reasons, yet in both cases the means became the goal. In our city and country environment we do allow pollution, criminality and things that hurt our fellow people. One out of three people have cancer now, many have lung and heart deceases, others have psychological or behavioral disorder, not caused by the lifestyle at home but by the way we organised society through economies of growth. Why do we allow things to happen in our society that we would not allow at home? Why do people who work in politics or business institutions accept participating in destruction while at home we work on health, safety and vitality? It has to do with choice, with paradigms that justify our actions, no questions asked. But maybe we should now ask ourselves those question and start looking at society and entrepreneurship from a different perspective, not an intellectual or scientific novelty but simply the way we would want it and organize things at home. The solution to all current crisis is not far away, it can be found very nearby…….at home.
If a content economy is possible at home within a family, it is also possible in our society. A family is the basic and most ancient format of human organisation and can be extended integrally to our surroundings. This does not allow for any growth criteria but addresses the content and meaning of our existence through social interaction and a culture around true sustainable progress. Let us place the differences next to each other to clarify our choices when we need to deal with it:
Growth Economy: speculation, based on “having”, external, material, shortages, competition, growth, conservatism, culture around greed, individualism, money is a goal, social and environmental issues secondary to financial growth, has no other “meaning” than statistical progress through growth, destructive, short term, etc.
Content Economy: care, based on “being”, internal, wellness, abundance, supportive, change, applied innovation, progression, culture around well-being, collective, interactive, social and environmental issues primary to progress, money is a means, meaningful, higher levels of awareness, constructive, evolutionary, etc.
The transformation from an economy of growth into one based on contents starts by elimination the word “growth” from the vocabulary and replace it for “meaningful change”. This has a tremendous effect on the way government addresses its responsibilities and how business transform too. We tend to blame our lifestyle for all the social and ecological mishaps around the world but most families in the world know perfectly well how to behave and live a decent and responsible life. If you care for your offspring at home you learn to appreciate health, safety, vitality and the need to keep them in place for the well-being of your loved ones. It are the systems that are being forced upon us through the cultural mentality of economic growth that lead to the problems. It is high time that the media, political parties, business and the individual citizens become aware and start the transformation themselves, closing off the speculative world from destroying further any of our wellness. And interestingly we have no need to wait for anyone to do this for us, no need for a politician to tell us to or any scientific research to figure out the truth. No, we can find the solution very nearby, looking at our own selves and the warmth of what most of us call home.
Using the word “economics” in the sense of valuing the progress of a human society (business, politics, global) we see that economics of growth prove unsustainable, potentially risky and certainly due for a total make-over. From a stability point of view we do not want economic growth as this leads to speculation which in turn leads inevitably into situations of crisis. We need to concentrate on the true values that make up an economy and keep growth to zero. An economy of 100 needs to be an economy of 100 next year and in a hundred years too. The real change should not be occurring in the size of the economy but in its content.
In a content economy is valued by sustainable progress not by growth. It should stay at 100 on the pre-established scale of social and environmental wellness. In such economy any long term savings in pensions and securities are stable as the valuables do not change over time. There is no need for speculation as no growth or inflation needs to be compensated. The key value of a content economy is its capacity to change continuously, providing lasting value in progress triggered by the natural ever changing circumstances of a progressive community that experiments with its evolution. The true and only growth that can be seen in a content economy is in know-how, human awareness, scientific knowledge and social interaction focused on maintaining and enhancing quality of life through constantly applied innovation along the lines of sustainable progress. The economic thermometer stays at 1oo if the society is capable of balancing genuine quality of life with the any changes in life expectancy, human health, our natural environment, population growth, usage of natural resources, footprint, etc. The true attention goes into co-creative ongoing adaptiveness of the community by being inventive, progressive and truly aware. Such content economics produces wellness by connecting personal talent and co-creative productivity to personal enjoyment of life and insight about human complexities. People in such content economics do no work but contribute, feeding the upcoming generations with the reflections of the generations that fade out.
In business we have see the talent of the late Steve Jobs and Apple to excel in content economics by being inventive, adaptive and focused on technological progress. The recent article of Adam Hartung in Forbes is an excellent reflection about the difference between conservative speculation of unsustainable economies of growth (Kodak, Microsoft, etc) and the sustainable content economy of change (The Apple of Steven Jobs. What will happen now that Jobs is gone?) in the paradigm of technological excellence. The same kind of leadership can be applied to societies and politics.
From a selfish human perspective the milking of the cash cow until the cow dies is perfectly natural human behavior. Why change anything that produces wealth? From a sustainable progress point of view it of course shortsighted to assume that the chicken with the golden eggs will live forever even if you kill all new born chickens for a while out of fear of competition. One cannot beat progress, only delay it at the expense of severe crises. During times of war people are more creative than in periods of economic growth. Crazy. In content economies people have an incentive to be inventive: sustainable progress. In economies of growth they don’t.
That is what we see occurring around the world today asking for immediate attention in the field of content economic in politics and business. The problem is of course that Steve Jobs is gone and among the world population of 7 billion only very few are strong, visionary and capable enough to provide the leadership that is needed to address the necessary changes. But they remain unseen for now. It is much easier for those in power to bully with force, conservative power and injections of fake masses of money over the back of our future without any collateral, just to maintain old power positions than to open up for a true mentality of change. Yet there is no other way for them then to let go or history will accuse them and every day we make history now. The current stress in the economies of growth is so large that they break up anyway. Instead of being stubborn and focusing on growth the global political forces would do good to inject the billions into applied innovation and an economy of content rather than the current actions of throwing speculative means into a black hole of nothingness that leads to disaster, depreciation of money and inflation right up to a crisis.
Instead of worrying about exchange rates, inflation, debts and stock values, let us get exited about change and use our incredible level of knowledge to provide excellence in wellness around the world. There is plenty of work for all in the content economy, now and always. If you really ask yourself what content economy is just remember family prime time and the way you generally interact at home for progress. Most families, especially those with children, reason at home with content economics in their minds while in their jobs or on the street with the economy of growth, just like the politicians and business executives, because that is the culture we live in.
Currently the social, political and entrepreneurial content economy, if we introduced a system to measure it is way below 100 and potentially volatile. A lot needs to be done to get it onto track, on individual level but especially in the way we run our human organisations.